Network Solutions for Schools - Pana High School


in a school district number eight in

Illinois a growing district determined

to apply technology to make learning

more engaging and to prepare its

students for 21st century jobs

but like so many districts today

attempting to integrate 21st century

tools on decade-old network technology

was problematic a generous donation of

touch-sensitive internet-enabled

whiteboards solidify the need to take

action once last year when the smart

boards were put in and teachers would

try to be doing a video and it wouldn't

work the downloading wouldn't work and

students would become frustrated staff

would become frustrated Paul off

principle at the junior high wanted to

use tools like YouTube Google and

Wikipedia for the classes he taught but

the growing networking issues were even

impacting the district's administrative

applications that be days in the past

where you couldn't even barely get your

computer to turn on just because of the

network infrastructure when I log onto

my computer if it takes ten minutes for

just to log on I know it's going to be a

slow day fortunately the leaders of the

painted district were fully engaged in

the leveraging of technology they honed

in on the specifics of the network

issues quickly had the will to act and

found a way to take action the division

has always been for me and working with

our board is to try to give our children

the best competitive advantage in his as

far as their education is concerned we

added smart boards and other pieces of

technology around the district it became

apparent that we didn't have the network

to support it network administrator

Scott savage was tasked with the upgrade

to their decade old network he knew it

would also need to support an advanced

VoIP phone system to replace their PBX

the choice of network vendor and the

revamping of Pena's network design was

the core of the project the network was

installed in the late 90s and it did

what it needed to do for the time we had

nine hundred computers approximately

sharing a single t1 for internet access

and it slowed down quite regularly and

we did not have quality of service or a

rate limiting on a per user or per


and because of that individual person in

an individual building was able to

monopolize the bandwidth for the entire

district if they would choose to do so I

designed a split route topology where

each building has its own independent

internet connection on one VLAN and on a

separate VLAN there is building to

building traffic funding and finding the

right vendors and local VAR was the next

major hurdle the winning bid was

submitted jointly by local Vardi NDC

telephone company for Mitel telephony

and d-link for data networking while

Mitel was a known player in the void

space the selection of d-link required a

bit of extra due diligence in Scott's

part he discovered that d-link

did more for less I was introduced to

d-link products through a word-of-mouth

from another technology coordinator he

clued me in about how they could do what

other product could do for anywhere from

thirty to sixty percent less a

competitor's a rack of equipment might

have been configured with ten switches

that were connected with single gigabit

links between them where the d-link

product actually has twenty gigabit

links in a resilient chain where an

individual switch in the stack and fill

and the network will continue to operate

Scott's due diligence convinced the

board that he had the right technical

solution helped along by a letter from

the president of Mitel vouching for the

compatibility of the d-link equipment

and dealing strong partnership with

highly capable local Vardi and DC

telephone company sealed the deal when

they partnered with the link in the

overall project that was a key piece to

us moving forward with both of them it

was very good to see how they worked

well together and stood behind their

commitments so this technology is

driving these kids to see that not only

that they're learning something new but

that the pain of school district is

offering it in the end the bid allowed

the district to take action on their

aggressive network overhaul at a

fraction of the cost in a single

summertime installation versus spreading

the purchase and upgrade out over

several years the impact has been

overwhelming we're able to allow the

privilege of all the students in the

district being able to do things like

visit you too

now we can allow rich media into the

hands of the students without any

significant restrictions the wide area

network itself has enhanced our

productivity as far as bandwidth in ways

that we're only beginning to explore any

kid any staff member can log on to any

computer within the district we'd never

had that capability before email has

been much much faster our administrative

software that we use STI operates a lot

faster that allows teachers to input

data that they need for students grades

attendance etc kimmy14 awesome yeah the

kids are doing a lot more projects that

are moving beyond just your simple

PowerPoint presentations they're adding

animations they're adding x' streaming

video they're able to add all of those

elements to what in the past has been

pretty much a technology poor teaching

environment of kids are engaged they're

going to learn we believe that these

tools are going to help engage kids

we're very excited about what you know

the future holds because we believe that

we've got a network that's going to take

us pretty solidly moving forward over

the next five to ten year period what I

see is the benefit to the students what

I look at them and I see them doing is

getting engaged and putting the you know

they're eager to learn and they want to

do it degree radius okay yeah we could

have had all of this technology at our

fingertips but without the networking it

would emit nothing