Manchester, state's largest school district, makes high-technology push
By PAUL FEELY New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER — The city's school technology director said by the start of the next school year, students and staff should see a new WiFi network in place at all campuses across the district as well as an upgrade to the school library system.
The improvements, and others targeted to take place early next year, are possible following a vote by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week to give final authorization for a $2.8 million bond to fund technology and security upgrades in the schools. In addition to new computers, the bond will pay for teacher training and new telephone and intercom systems at the schools, which police and school officials have categorized as a safety priority.
Manchester School I.T. Director Jeff DeLangie is expected to give an update on initiatives throughout the district at the Information Technology Committee meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m. in City Hall Plaza. He will update committee members on what initiatives will be implemented first, and the reasons behind the rankings.
"I'm confident by next September we will have upgrades made to the school library systems, and a WiFi network in all schools," he said. "We might be able to begin work on the phone and intercom system too."
According to DeLangie, the funding will help "close the technology gap in our schools, and targets our highest priority technology needs."
He listed student-use mobile carts, school libraries and computer labs, and professional development for staff as some of the top needs.
DeLangie said the WiFi network will eventually help support the district's Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, allowing those that have computers to use them in class to augment their learning. A BYOD pilot program is under way in the Queen City, with a report due to school board members next September.
DeLangie said the district intends to provide computers in class to those who do not have the ability to bring their own.
DeLangie said the improvements to the district's phone and intercom system were made using input from school principals, along with police, fire and health officials. Upgrades will include the ability to dial 911 from any classroom, one-touch emergency tones from the touch of a single button that sends unique emergency tones throughout the facility for events such as a lock-down, and the ability to initiate a public address page from the front office paging microphone from any telephone within the school facility, safe room — even somewhere off site.
The funding will also provide for training for staff in how to use the new technology.