COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education is considering a plan to relocate the network operations center for the Newton County School System because of hazardous conditions.
Dr. Gary Shattuck, director of Technology & Media Services at NCSS, informed school board members last month about possible dangers in the center, which is currently housed at the Newton County BOE building on Newton Drive in Covington.
The equipment has outgrown the space over the last several years and has never really fit in the current space. The center experienced a power outage in May that limited air conditioning in the room, which led to an almost total shutdown of the entire system and could have caused a fire with temperatures reaching 117 degrees.
Technologies crews worked to restart the system and monitor the room, but still there are imminent concerns that could cause another failure in the future, Shattuck said.
Although installing more or different air conditioning units could solve some problems, the room is inadequate in design and space, he said. The room is cramped and needs a raised floor with ground units to circulate cooler air and heat from the equipment -- 79 servers, data storage, switches and controls for all network traffic for the entire system and telephone equipment.
"I've been thinking about it for years," Shattuck said.
Since NCSS has planned for the new Newton College & Career Academy, Shattuck said he found a place in the building that could house the equipment in a more effective way.
He has proposed to the board that the data center be moved to the basement of the academy to a space that is not currently planned for use. The academy is located beside Newton High School on Newton Drive.
Shattuck said it's an ideal location because the space is cool and below ground level, has steel reinforcements, is an interior space and is a minimal disaster area.
"It's probably the safest place in the entire building," he said.
Last year, Shattuck said he presented a plan to NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews that would cost the system $960,000 to build a new room, but Mathews rejected that plan.
Now, Shattuck has developed a plan that could cost about $600,000. This would include the construction of an AC system and emergency generator, a new power supply, an increase in storage, the development of a fire suppression system and other engineering.
"I realize in these economic times that's a tremendous amount of money, but it is my belief and sincere concern that if we don't do something about this problem, we will have an event in the future," Shattuck said.
He said another failure of the center could cost the system $1 million worth of equipment, in addition to data loss and a long-term shutdown.
"I think it's an issue of concern," Mathews said. "It would be nothing but chaotic if we were in that situation."
Shattuck presented the school board with a plan last month, but a decision was tabled by the board to obtain more information. Shattuck said he plans to get four companies to provide independent assessments and bring to the board later at least two proposals -- the cheapest one and the best solution.
He did not provide a timeline for the board to receive a proposal.