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School system hears about tech upgrades

LaFAYETTE — On Wednesday, the Chambers County School District received an update on its technology plans for the upcoming year.

According to Technology Director Michael Sanders, the district is getting a complete overhaul of computers throughout the district. He said the district is still getting Chromebooks into the hands of each student and its also replacing each staff computer.

“We did pretty much every computer in the district,” he said.

Sanders said much of it had to do with the fact that many of the computers were still running the Windows 7 operating system. He said the operating system would no longer provide updates by the end of the year and the computers wouldn’t be secure, making the district susceptible to malware attacks.

Sanders said the district has been focused on cyber and ransom attacks recently and helped the Lanett City Schools System through its recent malware attack that shut down the district’s servers for several days. He said replacing the operating systems and computers should keep the district safe.

“If they are not secure, it will leave a hole for somebody to hack into our network and get their hooks in and encrypt our data to the point we can’t use it anymore,” Sanders said.

The district is down to about 1,300 Windows-based devices and has continually removed those since new computers have been installed. Sanders said the district added 2,000 Chromebooks, bringing the district’s total to more than 4,000 machines. The district has about 3,500 students enrolled.

Additionally, Chambers County Schools have about 500 iPads and iPad Minis, which are typically housed in elementary schools.

“That gives us around 6,000 district-owned devices, with 4,500 being wireless student devices,” Sanders said. “We are at our true one-to-one.”

Looking forward, Sanders said he is pursuing a technology grant to use for funds for robotics and coding education. Also, the district will be replacing the smart boards in most classrooms with interactive panels, which Sanders said is like a projector and smartboard combined. He said there are already 20 or 30 in the district, but the price on the technology has started to come down. 

Also, Sanders said the district is implementing the Raptor ID Scanning System. The system will scan any visitor’s identification when entering a school, which checks against the National Sex Offender Registry and a custom database created by the district.

The custom database would include parents who are not allowed to see their children due to court-ordered rulings.