Pennsylvania High School Struggles to Prep New PCs

Because the computers were ordered late, students and teachers at Hazleton High will have to wait for their tech tools.

by Kent Jackson, Standard-Speaker / September 21, 2018

(TNS) — HAZLE TWP. — A shipment of 2,000 computers arrived at Hazleton Area High School in late August, but students and teachers can’t use them yet.

Kenneth Briggs, the school district’s director of technology, said if the machines had arrived at the start of August, technicians could have unpacked them, prepared them and distributed them closer to the start of school on Aug. 27.

Although the district agreed to get the computers in June, the leases weren’t signed until August.

“We missed our window,” Briggs said at a work session with the school board Tuesday.

When board member Vincent Zola asked how to avoid a delay next year, Briggs said if the computers were ordered in May they would arrive in time.

Business Manager Robert Krizansky said the district could order computers in May as long as the board understood that the payment would come from the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2019.

Preparing new computers takes hundreds of hours of labor. Briggs estimated that workers will spend 130 hours taking them out of boxes, assigning them asset tags and recording their serial numbers.

Other work will take 312 hours, Briggs estimates. That covers separating student computers from teacher computers, setting the machines to image, installing software, joining the district’s network and applying policies.

“Our technician responsible for setting up the process has it down to a science,” Briggs said in an email. “We can only image 40 units at a time. We are limited by space and electrical resources since school has already started and all rooms are being used. This will extend the process dramatically since we can only get two or three batches done in a 24-hour day.”

When the new computers are ready in a few weeks, they will be distributed to students at Valley and Drums elementary/middle schools first because those schools need them most, Briggs said.

Meanwhile, the district has 7,000 computers for approximately 12,400 teachers and students.

After the new computers are distributed, each classroom for English and mathematics in kindergarten through grade five will have at least nine computers.

Each middle school will receive 30 new computers, and the high school will get two carts with 25 computers each, he said.

The district’s approximately 750 teachers have computers that are 10 years old and being replaced with some of the new machines this year. After weeding out the oldest computers, the district will retain approximately 8,000 computers, the most ever, Briggs said.

Purchasing virus protection for 6,500 computers costs $11,444 yearly, according to an agreement that the board will consider entering Thursday. After paying that fee to Trebron Co. for three years, Trebron will provide the protection in the fourth year at no cost, Briggs said.

He also said parts have been ordered for intercoms, which workers will install in October in one school at a time, starting at McAdoo-Kelayres Elementary/Middle School.

©2018 the Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.