California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 36, No. 3
April-May, 1996

February SIG Meeting Summary

Recap: NetDay96 accomplshments surpass expectations of IS Director.

Ken Jones, Lodi Unified School District

I really love it when I am wrong. Netday96 for Lodi USD was an unprecedented success. We accidentally did a couple of things right in planning and then were very surprised by the quality and quantity of volunteers and school staff who made the project work. In total, five of our 35 sites had significant wiring completed. One elementary school even took the planned 8 classroom installation and pressed on to complete all 22 classrooms and the library (before noon!). I was personally involved with activities that would make a fire marshall cringe, but the electrons must get through.

Please do not read this column as an out and out endorsement of the Gage/Kaufman vigilantes. Quite to the contrary, I believe that the goals of Netday96 were met at my district, and many others that I talked with, in spite of the dynamic duo. Maybe it was by design, but Gage and Kaufman's apparent ignorance of reality was the catalyst which pushed our district into action. Rather than subscribe to the foolish notion that a video tape or two could a network designer make, our district and others set the ground rules. No site could participate without district approval. In order to receive approval, the site had to get the commitment from a qualified network designer. We even gave them the job description of such an individual and held casual interviews of the volunteers prior to our approval. Netday kits went from "free" to "sponsored." Without much industry in our area, donations were almost nonexistent. However, district personnel ensured that all needed supplies were available to the volunteers. We wanted to create success despite Gage and Kaufman's inability to deliver on free stuff, and it worked.

Also contrary to popular opinion, we did not feel that allowing the planning to commence a day or two prior to March 9th was a good idea. Our network managers met with the volunteers weeks prior to Netday to finalize what was to be done, and where. Finally, we assigned at least one of our in-house network experts to each of the participating sites. We felt that time-and-a-half money saved over fixing a botched job.

The up-side of the experience (besides five schools with lots more Cat5 wire) was the bright spotlight it shined on our inadequate infrastructure to support the Internet and other electronic endeavors. Now when I discuss Internet access with school administrators and mention the lack of networking hardware, there is a degree of understanding.

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