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Schools make call to improve phone systems
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There also are plans to upgrade the telephone systems at several Effingham County schools.

Jeff Lariscy, the school system’s information technology coordinator, told the Effingham County Board of Education when the systems have been installed he will be able to correct problems through the network from the central office, and it will allow for calls within the system to go through the network allowing phone lines to remain open for those needing to call in or out of the schools.

“Right now, we already have it set up with Effingham County High School,” he said. “I can sit at my desk and call (ECHS Principal) Yancy Ford’s extension and in a moment, it will ring at his desk without going through an outside line, and then those resources will be available for teachers to call parents, and parents to call teachers. I know teachers sit and wait for a line to become available to call a parent.”

He said the system will also provide an automated system for directing calls. The budget for upgrading the telephone systems is $210,000.

There are also plans to purchase more software and possibly hardware to run particular software applications more effectively.

Lariscy said some of the software cannot be paid for with SPLOST funds because it is a hosting service. But even for a hosting service, there are sometimes hardware needs to help the software run efficiently.

Discovery Education united streaming is a hosted service, Lariscy said, but it doesn’t cost the school system anything because it is a partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting. It provides teachers with more than  4,000 video clips they can display.

Discovery Education’s united streaming is a digital video-on-demand online teaching service that is in more than half of the nation’s schools.

Lariscy said even though united streaming is free, the school system chose to purchase a server that the content is kept on. The server is updated nightly.

When the network is being used for instruction during the day, a teacher can go to the united streaming site and click on a video.

“Once they get that rolling, it comes back to our network and does not impact our bandwidth to the Internet,” Lariscy said.

Lariscy said this allows many teachers to utilize video in the classroom at one time without negatively impacting the network’s Internet connection.

The five-year budget for software is $221,000.

Upgrades to the local networks at the board office, Effingham County High, Effingham County Middle and Ebenezer Elementary are planned along with a firewall upgrade.

Lariscy said the current switches for the wide area network are no longer produced, and the system will lose support for those soon. They are scheduled to be replaced within the next five years.

The budget for network upgrades is $151,000 over the next five years.

Lariscy also suggested the purchase of vehicles for technicians to use to transport equipment to schools in the county at a cost of $63,000 over the next five years.

He recommended the purchase of Chevrolet Aveo 5s due to the low cost and low operation cost. For larger items he recommended the Chevrolet Colorado. He also told the board the cabling specialist’s van is approximately nine years old and will need to be replaced soon.