Infrastructure and Systems
Kent School District has one of the most comprehensive wireless and networking infrastructures around. Each school is connected to the district data center via fiber with either a 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps connection, depending on the location. This system provides our schools with a 500Mbps connection to the Internet. As a comparison, home Internet that is considered ‘fast’ is advertised with only a 15Mbps connection. The network is built with redundancy in mind, so even a hiccup doesn’t disrupt the students’ and teachers’ access to their file servers. In fact, teachers maintain access to their network drives 99.9% of the time. For example, in the winter storm on January 2012, the administration campus lost power for two days, but the backup generators that power our centrally located data center turned on automatically so that our servers never had a loss of power. All our routers and switches are maintained by our own IT staff and interns.
Like many school districts, Kent uses eRate funding for some of our Internet connection services. The 1400 wireless access points spread throughout the district offer our students and teachers access from anywhere on their campuses. The system was also designed with density in mind, knowing that our high school classes can contain close to 40 students at a time. Our goal is to provide the best possible experience for students and teachers to utilize the tools available to the 21st century classroom. While our own device connection is encrypted and secure, KSD supports guest device access as well. This system has been so successful and reliable that it was recently the topic of a case study from Cisco that outlines the implementation and impact on the classroom.
Kent School District is one of the largest implementations of Microsoft’s Direct Access product. All of our One-to-One laptops and teacher laptops are complete with this feature. Direct Access allows our teachers and students to access all of their files, drives, and tools on their KSD-issued laptops in the exact same manner they would from their schools, from anywhere with an Internet connection.
All Kent School District staff members and students in all grade levels have accounts in our email system. This system is self-hosted and has a 99.9% uptime. Student accounts have additional restrictions, such as the limitation that they cannot send or receive email outside of our district address book. It is our goal that students would be able to communicate with their teachers and classmates for educational purposes, just as an employee might communicate with colleagues and supervisors: asking questions, sending appointment requests, and assigning tasks. The skills provided through this software are helping prepare our students for college and careers.