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Committee OK's continued merger of town's IT departments

Date: 1/12/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW Dr. Edward Costa, Superintendent of Schools, and Ryan Quimby, the town's Information Technology (IT) Director, met with the School Committee last Monday evening to present an update on the progress of the School Department and the town IT merger.

Costa said the talks for the merger began a year ago. "Why merge?" he asked. "We are the same network ... A house divided falls. We're already working as one group of technology folks."

He added that the two departments are "already working daily if not hourly in concert."

Quimby explained that one year ago, during the nascent stages of the merger, each of the five schools in town had a server local to that building, and that that hardware was old. Due to the work accomplished through the merger, each school is now on a "virtual server," run through one physical server located in Town Hall. He explained that this increases reliability, speed and recovery for the schools.

Other benefits include network security and the economy of purchasing together, according to Costa.

Now, instead of the School Department's IT staff and the town's IT staff working independently, they share responsibilities. Costa explained that the schools' site technicians work with the hardware in the buildings, while the town's technicians work primarily with the network.

"This system is working extremely well," Costa commented.

He continued that what the merger is heading toward is a total meshing of the town and school IT departments for all 10 municipal buildings -- the five schools, the police department, the fire department, the Department of Public Works, Town Hall and Pleasant View Senior Center.

School Committee member Thomas McGowan asked what the objectives for the merger are in 2009.

Costa said he wants to be able to say the 10 buildings are working as a whole.

Quimby added that newer equipment would also be an objective for the coming year.

"Upgraded equipment means we can segregate the student computers out," he stated. "We can limit their bandwidth and content filter." He explained that the current content filter is being used town-wide, so sites students cannot access and inaccessible by the police and fire departments as well.

"We just need the School Committee support for capital improvements for the technology upgrades," Quimby said.

There are currently 1,170 computers on the East Longmeadow network, with more than 1,000 inside the schools.

The School Committee agreed to support the town's IT Department's capital improvement request.

"The bottom line is our students are going to benefit from this," Bill Fonseca, vice-chair of the School Committee, said.