Last February, the school district announced it would install a new fiber optic network linking the 12 school buildings and educational facilities in the district, which will enhance security and expand educational opportunities.
"This new system will allow the district to expand our educational offerings with the latest online curriculum applications," said Superintendent Dr. Robert Van Zanten.
"The network infrastructure will be designed to meet today's educational goals and those of the future," said Yonarkis Estevez, information systems manager.
The new system, which is expected to be up by January of 2008, will upgrade the current Internet speeds and capabilities from 1.5 megabytes to 2 gigabytes, and enhance communications between the school buildings and facilities among other benefits.
"We really started having our meetings as of six months ago, and what we're doing is upgrading [our infrastructure] from a t-1 line, which is 1. 5 megabytes technology, and moving to 1,500 megabytes," said Estevez. "Think of it as a one-lane highway, which will enhance our communications, to a 1,500-lane highway."
Latest in technology
The West New York school district has partnered with Pennsylvania-based Sunseys, Inc. to implement and design the new network. Sunseys is a telecommunications corporation with particular expertise in education and health care.
Recently, Sunseys completed a survey of some district service sites to see the best possible way to bring the fiber optic network into the buildings.
They will now take this data and put together a floor plan for the district.
According to Estevez, the conversion will take place during Christmas break.
The new system will bring: enhanced communications, the ability to share video files, greater access to multimedia applications, the ability to broadcast educational programs from one school to the entire district, and increased Internet speed and capabilities.
"Data, voice and video are the key enhancements in this network," said Estevez. "In the middle school [which was built two years ago] we have new systems such as a media management system, which allows us to broadcast information throughout the school."
The new fiber optic network will reach any educational facility in the district, whether it's announcements from the superintendent or broadcast events from the other schools.
"That way kids from School No. 4 [for example] can watch an event at another facility without having to leave the school," said Estevez. "It will centralize all our systems. It's a lot easier for us to manage, and removes any kind of limitations we have now."
The new network will allow these communications to work by offering a lot of bandwidth support through their Internet systems.
"It's the latest means of communication as far as wide area networking," said Estevez. "It will enable us to use all of the different types of education technology and a bandwidth that will support anything else that will come in the next five years if not longer."
Catching up with the new schools
Since West New York's latest schools under construction by the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation (SCC) - such as the upcoming School No. 4 - already include fiber optic networks, it was only logical for the district to update their systems at this time.
"We did not want a situation where the students in the older schools do not have the same access to the latest technology and information as those students in the new schools," said Van Zanten.
"We have this new technology being inputted into the new schools. The fiber optic network will allow us to utilize it," said Estevez. "It will connect all of our schools and administrative buildings. It's going to be a like a ring around West New York, and there is going to be two [installation] sites where our new P.S. No. 3 and 6 will be built in the next five years."
However, although the network will link all the school buildings in the district, the gateway to the Internet will still be through Memorial High School, where the district has its firewall and filters out unwanted materials.
"Our gateway to the Internet is our high school," said Estevez. "So if a student in elementary school uses the Internet, they are going through our high school."
This was a problem at certain times when too many kids would access the system at the same time, and slow down applications.
However, with the new network accessing multimedia applications such as United Screening, which is an online digital library from Discovery Education, is better.
"This will give us greater access to media applications such as United Screening," said Estevez. "For example, I know in the high school they use Tiger TV, and if they wanted they could [broadcast] it throughout the network live."
In addition, another benefit of the network will be the ability to create the most modern security system available in schools with video surveillance cameras and swipe cards. Jessica Rosero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org