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School district's tech department strives to be more efficient

July 15, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools officials recently reorganized the system's technology department in an effort to make service to the schools more efficient.

William Blum, the school system's chief operating officer, said school officials last fall began keeping tabs on the number of backlogged work orders for computer repairs, the productivity of the technicians sent to fix them and the response from schools about the timeliness of the repairs.

By reshuffling some members of the technology department, school officials were able to assign six technicians to six zones (made up of about eight schools) compared to the three technicians assigned to the areas in the 2001-2002 school year, he said.

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The moves reduced the backlog of work orders by about 60 percent, Blum said.

An e-mail-based customer service survey, which was sent out to those who use the school system's computers, showed that about 70 percent felt they were getting good customer service.

Problems with accessing the system's network in the past because of downed servers led David Mundey, the school system's network manager, to hire Novell to work on increasing the network's availability.

Technicians also received additional training in new areas of repair that, despite the age of the school system's computers, will prove useful, he said.

He said about 80 percent of the school system's computers are more than 4 years old.

"If you learn to fix a brand-new computer, the same training can be used to fix the clunkers," Blum said.

New servers were installed at seven high schools and a second T1 line was added to five high schools to speed up those schools' access to the Internet, Blum said.

Data backup systems also were installed in all schools, he said.

He said that over the summer the technology department will work on updating the e-mail system GroupWise and setting up ZenWorks, a program that will allow computer technicians to access any school-system computer from the central office for repairs.

"If you don't have a stable network, then teachers won't want to use the technology," Mundey said.

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