Summary: As the future unfolds, K-12 schools need a reliable means of expanding their technology offerings. But, if your infrastructure is out-of-date now, it definitely won’t be able to keep pace with what’s coming. When you switch to an agile network solution, convenient management and upgrades are more than a possibility—they’re the standard. Did you know you can do it with E-Rate dollars?
For K-12 school administrators tasked with running a district-wide network, management is a complex job. Thousands of students, hundreds of faculty, all their devices, multiple buildings, and a sprawling outdoor space make for a huge demand. Throw in a bus system and you’re practically running a small city. The right provider can give you one single network to rule it all.
Making the Right Move
Raymond Berrott, Director of Technology for the Upper St. Clair School District, located just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, knows this reality. He’s tasked with providing a network to 4,100 students and 600 faculty members spread across six schools. The district’s eight buildings also include a central office and a bus garage. The aging infrastructure (circa early 2000s) could no longer support the demand, and network management had become a taxing process full of cumbersome workarounds. It was clear they needed a change. Yet, like most school districts, Upper St. Clair is on a tight budget.
Clearing the Hurdles
In districts with sprawling facilities like Upper St. Clair, the network needs to support student and faculty devices, in addition to hosting dozens of applications and systems, with more on the way. Daily troubleshooting is inefficient, especially when co-channel interference and other challenges take valuable time from what’s often a small IT staff. Fortunately, the E-Rate program was designed to help overcome these challenges for schools in the United States.
Network Management for a Complex Campus
Traditional platforms often make network management cumbersome, which isn’t realistic given the pace of advancement in educational technology. Today’s schools need a network feature set that’s decoupled from hardware so it can be easily changed. This is especially important on a complex campus with growing technology needs. To keep up, the networking solution has to offer simple, poolable, and portable switch licensing.
Without this flexibility, online access to the best technology isn’t reliable and students can fall behind. For the faculty side, when ongoing internet frustration is part of their daily routine, turnover can increase. Using E-Rate funds, your school can meet everyone’s needs, even as technology becomes more sophisticated and the demand on your network increases.
As an E-Rate eligible provider, the expert support team from Extreme Networks will help you navigate the process and find a solution that keeps your entire campus connected via a single network, with one license for any device. This is especially important when you’re serving a 1,000+ student body in a distributed environment. Not only does streamlined network management reduce time spent troubleshooting, but it futureproofs schools so they can innovate alongside the educational technology.
Preparing for Future Expansion
To meet their growing needs, Upper St. Clair School District turned to their IT partner. After learning of the partner’s successful relationship with Extreme Networks, the district was eager to get on board and up-to-speed.
ExtremeSwitching gave Upper St. Clair the ability to obtain a combination of industry-leading switches and routers with options for local, cloud, and hybrid management. Now the network management process is tailored to the district’s needs, reliable infrastructure is in place, and connectivity is consistent across all their buildings. As a result, up to 20,000 connected devices are able to access more than 150 advanced applications and systems without network degradation.
Upholding the highest standards in education is part of Upper St. Clair’s mission to carry on the distinct honor of membership in the International Baccalaureate program. Berrott knows: when getting online and staying online is easy everyone can focus on learning. After seeing the upgrade in action, he said, “I’m looking at my network monitoring screen right now and we just peaked at 1.5 Gb—and everything is running as smoothly as ever.”
A+ for Agility and Adaptability
Before, during, and after installation, Extreme worked alongside Upper St. Clair to ensure the right fit and a seamless transition. Because Extreme leverages artificial intelligence (AI), the team was able to optimize coverage and performance throughout the network, easing frustrations for staff, students, and the school’s IT team. Rich analytics and insights driven by AI and machine learning make it easy to fine-tune the network to prevent issues from impacting service.
The partnership between Extreme Networks and Upper St. Clair will safeguard the school’s future and deliver top-notch education for years to come. With this upgrade to agile network management, the district can adapt to change easily and expand its technology offerings at any time. And when they need assistance, outstanding project management and support are only a click away. When students, faculty, and IT staff are set up for success, the future of education is secure.
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