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School board approves new technologies

COVINGTON - After concern over not having a backup server, the Newton County Board of Education approved last week a contract for the purchase of new servers for the Newton County School System.

During the monthly work session last Tuesday, the school board members unanimously approved a contract with Dell Marketing for $41,101.82 for the purchase of several servers.

"The school system buys servers on an annual basis to replace older servers in order to accommodate new applications and system needs," said NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley in his recommendation to the board. "After considerable research, it was decided to use blade servers instead of rack-mounted servers for several reasons."

He said blade servers allow for higher density and use less energy, providing a cost savings to the school system since they would require fewer physical servers and cooling requirements.

When the school board approved the 2009-10 school year budget, $21,000 was budgeted for replacement servers in the form of rack-mounted ones. Whatley said money would be pulled from elsewhere to make up the $20,000 difference.

"When a server goes down, it's information and communication that becomes a major problem, not only for parents, but for us, too," Whatley said. "We are balancing our technology needs and monetary needs."

Originally, the school board planned to vote on the recommendation during tonight's monthly meeting, but Dr. Gary Shattuck, director of Technology and Media Services at NCSS, said during the work session that his department recently used the last backup server.

Some board members showed concern for the lack of a backup, since the ordering of one could take up to two weeks, so they decided to vote in the work session so that the school system could act on the order immediately.

During tonight's monthly meeting, the board plans to vote on two other technology recommendations.

Whatley recommends that the board approve an annual subscription for Lightspeed Systems Internet content filtering software from Diversified Computer Solutions for $28,000.

The software will prevent users from viewing pornographic thumbnail images, prevents non-authorized search engines and peer-to-peer applications and is designed specifically for education. These features were not available with the current software, Websense.

In another recommendation, Whatley asks the board to approve an annual maintenance and warranty agreement with 3Com equipment with Macon-based Infinity Network Solutions for $48,083.75.

This will provide warranty service on all school system networking and telephone equipment; a four-hour response time is promised for any reported trouble.

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Newton County BOE building, which is located at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.