Wenatchee School District Discuss Upgrading Security Both Online and In-Person
The Wenatchee School Board discussed past and present upgrades to their physical and online security systems during their board meeting Tuesday.
Executive Director of Technology, Innovation, Safety, and Security Ron Brown says that remote learning during the pandemic fast-tracked the district’s electronic infrastructure, stating that 10 years worth of electronic development was accomplished in three months.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had around 3,000 to 4000 devices that students used,” Brown said. “Then we all of a sudden jump to every staff member, every student, every para professional, every single body in our district now has a device, gets on our network, and uses our tools and expects them to be functional 100% of the time and never fail. That's a big ask for a big organization.”
Brown explained that through the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER), along with federal COVID-19 relief funds, they were able to upgrade their electronic hardware, with a lifespan of up to 20 years.
The district underwent the following network upgrades between 2020-23:
- Increased their Wi-Fi footprint across the district.
- Added more than 130 new uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to power the network for up to an hour during a power outage, good after 2032.
- Over 1000 new cable drops to support current and future network needs.
- Upgraded to 10GB fiber for infrastructure devices, can last through 2040.
- More than 100 new doors added to their remote access control system.
- Added video doorbells and access control panels at the front entrance of each site.
- Replaced over 150 security cameras with fewer blind spots.
- Upgraded over 100 projectors and large space audio systems for cafeterias, gyms, and commons.
- Supplied approximately 3,000 electronic devices to students during the pandemic
- Converted to a new website with a new staff portal site.
On top of these changes, Brown said his department is also focusing on their system’s vulnerability to cyber security attacks, working with Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
“K-12 [education] is the most targeted cyber environment right now, so when you look at the attackers around the globe, K-12 education is the top hit,” Brown said.
The district currently offers a voluntary multi-factor authentication system for staff, but may offer two-factor verification for parents and students this Fall.
Future improvements include switching from PDF forms to online documents (Google, Qualtrics, bloomz, and Incident IQ), converting from Skyward to Qmulative between 2025-26, and moving their phone system to the cloud in 2025.
Fire alarms at Mission View Elementary School, and Pioneer Middle School will also need to be replaced.