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Network outages cause problems in 191 | Education

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage schools have run into some snags with their network and they’re working on solving the problem.

“We are expanding our network, our usage, and therefore have run into some problems with our network,” Gothard said.

The first reported network outage happened in February, he said. In January, they bought and installed new firewalls and they worked well, Gothard said. In early February, they lost internet connection and then had troubles on and off over the next month or so. In March they learned there was a hardware failure, Gothard said during the April 13 Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School Board meeting.

The vendor sent an action plan but diagnosis and troubleshooting have been challenging, he said, because the window for addressing problems is so brief; it’s 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Ultimately, new firewalls were re-installed and there was a break in ongoing problems.

In mid-April, they determined that a bad blade in the content filter caused the original issue, separate from the firewall problem, Gothard said. He explained to the board in a report that bandwidth was then cut in half and traffic was higher than they could handle. This even affected state testing, said Board Member Eric Miller.

“We’re still experiencing a little bit of intermittent outages, but that problem has been addressed,” Gothard said.

Board members were concerned about communication about the outages.

Board Member Jim Schmid said he didn’t think the communication plan was sufficient because they received a note that the problem had been resolved — but it hadn’t. He tried accessing the internet on a student’s computer but couldn’t.

“There was no communication, there were many frustrated people,” he said. “The communication plan needs to be fixed. It is not working.”

Miller jumped in to say he would like to see a notification that tells people when the network is going down rather than finding out when it’s happening.

Gothard said he would talk with Doug Johnson, director of technology for the district, about looking into a notification system and other possible upgrades while working within the budget.

“I think this dialogue is really important,” Gothard said. “We’re going to have to make some important decisions about upgrades to our system without taking away from what we want our students to experience.”

Board Member Bob VandenBoom acknowledged the “radical change” in the district’s technology approach, referencing the increase in Google Chromebooks distributed to students this year and the increased use of technology in the classrooms throughout the district.

“I don’t think any of us expected to get through that without any bumps in the road,” he said. “We’re clearly having a few bumps in the road. I’m glad to see that we’re learning from them.”

He said he’s still…

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