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Franklin leaders say in-house IT work will save school money

Benjamin Franklin High School leaders lauded the “seamless” transition to an in-house information technology system, something they say will save thousands each month.

By no longer using the Orleans Parish school system’s shared services and bringing telecommunication and internet services in-house, school leaders say they will save about $7,000 a month.

“We’ve had more than our fair share of moments where we’ve been disappointed,”  Timothy Rusnak, the school’s chief executive officer, said of the district’s shared services.

Rusnak charged Technology Director Rosalind Chester with a long list of tasks needed to make the transition. Chester will now oversee telephone service, web filtering, wireless Internet security, federal E-rate rebate funding, Microsoft licensing, email and the school’s website and servers.

“Normally it would take a team of people to do this and she has pretty much done it by herself,” Rusnak said.

Chester said  at the school’s board meeting Thursday that she was in the process of finalizing the transition and will be ready for the upcoming school year. She did use the help of some student workers to manually reconfigure more than 500 computers and laptops to connect them to the new network.

Board members were pleased that the school’s website did not appear to skip a beat during the transition. And staff members were equally happy that they never lost access to email.

“Its been seamless from an outsider’s standpoint,” said board member Susan Weeks.

“On June 30 [New Orleans Public Schools] dropped us and on June 30 we came up without any problems,” Chester said.

Weeks asked how IT issues would be handled when Chester was out of the building. Chester said she’s contracted Pelican Computers and a representative would be available if there was ever an issue while she was unavailable.

Ben Franklin is not the first school leave shared services offered by the district. Einstein Charter School brought technology services in house last year citing similar cost savings.

Chester received a round of applause at the end of her presentation.

Rusnak also introduced Assistant Principal Don Jackson at the meeting.

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