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network infrastructure

Factors to consider when deciding between managing a network in-house and employing a service provider

With the recent updates to E-rate, district leaders can choose between building and maintaining their own networks using dark fiber or trusting the job to a communications service provider. When making that decision, considerations must include looking at the total cost of ownership, evaluating technology innovation, identifying the impact to network control and security, and determining staff availability and expertise to manage future issues.

With the modernization of E-rate and the increase in available funding for school districts, many administrators face a strategic choice when it comes to their network. Some districts may choose a managed service through a third-party vendor, while others want to keep their network managed in-house by district staff. There are pros and cons to each model and several key considerations every district should examine before making this important IT decision.

St. John’s Prep is a rigorous, Catholic independent day school for boys in grades 9 through 12. When the school adds a middle school with grades 6, 7, and 8 in September 2015, its 175-acre campus in Danvers, Mass. will serve 1,450 students. Focused on creating an atmosphere that fosters intellectual growth, St. John’s Prep is dedicated to preparing all students to take full advantage of today’s technology resources.

iBoss allows administrators to control web content throughout a school community. The web filter’s interface is password protected and administered through a standard web browser. For example, iBoss can give a class that is studying social media access to websites like Twitter, but still block the rest of the school from accessing it.

Reader Testimony: 

“The iBoss Enterprise appliance has solved our content filtering woes. For six-plus years, we have struggled to keep up with content filtering and the expanding use of the web in instruction. iBoss allows us to focus on instruction without sacrificing security and compliance.”

—John Anderson, technology director, Stephens County School System, Ga.


Online learning is an exciting and limitless prospect, but the applications and devices required to support it demand a robust district network infrastructure. Though establishing the necessary broadband foundation can seem daunting, the resulting benefits are worthwhile pursuits. This web seminar, originally presented on June 4, 2013, addressed the importance of broadband today and in the future, factors to consider when developing a network plan, and the innovative initiatives made possible with high amounts of bandwidth.

The need for high-speed internet in schools is growing exponentially. District Administration spoke with four administrators from around the country about what is driving current bandwidth-consumption trends, what impact increased bandwidth has on tight budgets, and what the future of bandwidth looks like for K12 schools.


Small and medium-sized districts have unique challenges in establishing ongoing technology sustainability. However, even with limited funds and staff, it is possible for schools to have maximum functionality and ease of management with the latest technology products available. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2013, an IT manager from the Hamilton Heights (Ind.) School District shared how his school system was able to implement the Wi-Fi capabilities of a much larger district with a much smaller budget.

A robust network that allows students and staff to access the internet is critical for every school district. However, to protect students and comply with CIPA and local regulations, a multi-strategy approach with reporting, monitoring, and flexibility tools is essential.

Digital citizenship programs, which focus on the safe and appropriate use of technology by students, have never been more important. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that 31 percent of students have been victims of bullying at school. An important aspect of Digital Citizenship is connecting students’ advancement through the program with enhanced access rights.

SchoolSpeedTest.orgAs K12 education becomes more interconnected to videos, photos, software and Internet offerings for project-based learning and other lessons, there is a great need for schools not to only have access to broadband but also to have enough broadband to keep up with the array of new tools used in class.