BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- School officials from the Briarcliff Manor, Pocantico Hills and Pleasantville school districts say taking part in a pilot program is helping them to keep track of information, keep data secure and generally ramp up communications.
The three school districts are taking advantage of a new managed IT service being offered by the Mamaroneck-based Lower Hudson Regional Information Center.
LHRIC, a non-profit consortium, says it provides educational and administrative technology services to 62 school districts in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties.
Although it’s only been two months into the school year, folks like Erica Beasley, Briarcliff’s director of technology, are already singing the program’s praises.
“The advantages have been phenomenal," she said. "We definitely got what we were looking for in terms of expertise.”
LHRIC’s Assistant Executive Director Christine D’Aiello said the consortium offers “just-in-time support” for remote and on-site problems, as well as project-specific assistance and total technology management.
For example, she said, Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager enables the deployment and security of devices and applications across an enterprise. It can now be delivered remotely to school districts.
This prevents the disruption of teaching in classrooms that may have as many as 30 computers that need upgrading, D’Aiello said.
Any technology infrastructure can appear to be an intimidating array of networked computers, server frameworks, software applications and hardware elements such as hubs, switches and bridges.
But it’s the costs of finding solutions to IT problems that can often prove more daunting.
One of the consortium’s first priorities is to help school districts keep costs down, said Dennis Lauro, its executive director.
Because it works with Southern Westchester BOCES and neighboring BOCES in Putnam/Northern Westchester and Rockland counties, the consortium can, it says, “provide efficient, cost-effective technology support.”
Districts, meanwhile, can also take advantage of state aid regulations to help contain costs, the consortium said.
Beasley said she saw the need for managed IT support years ago.
“In fact we had a lot of trouble finding the right resources to meet our needs,” she said.
Beasley said the district considered hiring an outside firm but realized that doing that wouldn’t provide a viable long-term solution.
She credited the LHRIC’s expertise and technicians with keeping the district’s technology chugging along.
“Everything is really secure now,” Beasley said.
Pleasantville Schools Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter says the shift to Managed IT has been “seamless.”
Fox-Alter pointed to Pleasantville’s successful shift to Microsoft cloud-based computing and the overhaul of its Wi-Fi network.
The entire system is now more “robust” and secure, Fox-Alter added.
“Before this, districts were constantly adding staff to deal with various tech-related issues,” D’Aiello said.
Managed IT “has helped to alleviate that,” she added.
The pilot project will be evaluated at the end of the school year in June 2017.
The results will be “instrumental,” said Lauro, as the consortium weighs offering the new service to all of its districts.
“Our process and approach will be consistent from district to district,” he said, “but it will definitely be tailored to fit their needs.”