Tech upgrades planned for APS

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Alpena Public Schools Director of Operational Technology Paul Mancine, left, talks to the district Board of Education Curriculum and Technology committee about technology upgrades planned for this summer.

ALPENA — It will be a busy summer for the Alpena Public Schools technology department.

Paul Mancine, director of operational technology for APS, spoke to the district Board of Education’s Curriculum and Technology Committee about upgrades and other projects that will be taking place this summer throughout the district.

Each elementary school will have a door access control system installed that includes a card access system for staff and a Raptor System that will check the name of visitors against the registered sex offender lists in all 50 states.

All desktop computer labs will be removed from each elementary school and two computer labs will be removed from Alpena High School. There will be more space for students and staff at the elementary schools and the high school computer labs will be turned into project-based learning classrooms.

Administrative and secretary desktops will receive updates. Mancine said the desktops haven’t been touched in a couple of years, so a fresh reinstall of operating systems will replace the old systems.

The main switch at the high school –essentially the “brains” of the computer system — will be upgraded. Mancine said the current main switch is no longer supported so the upgrade is needed.

Mancine said the district is upgrading from a 1-gigabyte system to a 10-gig system for school upgrades. He said Universal Service Funds are being used and that will make the district only pay 20% of the final cost.

“We’re looking two to three years out (to) be ahead of any curve that comes,” Mancine said.

Meal Magic, the district’s food service system, will be upgraded after 10 years to a new Web-based system. Mancine said computers for food services may be upgraded to 21-inch, touchscreen computers, instead of 11-inch touchscreen computers. Those will be used when students are buying their lunch and it will be easier for food service workers at the schools.

“We have to do something,” Mancine said. “We’re saving money, we’re upgrading, and now my recommendation is that we get hardware that is 2019 hardware compared to 2009 hardware.”

Nic Wiser, food service director for the district, will make the final call on if the district’s food service program purchases the new computers, Mancine said.

The district is also close to its initiative of being one-to-one for Chromebooks, meaning the district will have enough of the computers for each student to be assigned one. Thanks to a $200,000 donation from the Besser Foundation, all 873 students at Thunder Bay Junior High School will have a Chromebook to use next school year.

“We’re going to put these devices in the hands of every middle school kid,” Mancine said.

Each elementary school classroom will also have a Chromebook cart, and the hope, Mancine said, is to have a Chromebook cart in each classroom at Alpena High.

A pilot classroom management tool will be used for sixth-graders next school year. Mancine said the pilot will allow teachers to see what is on the student’s computers and they will be able to stop what the students are doing on their computers at any time. He said the pilot will cost the district $1,600.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.