Technology is instrumental to this urban charter school system’s success because it helps mitigate the effects of being a student living with limited means. When the school system grew to 14 schools with just a handful of internal IT staff, they sought an outsourced IT partner to manage current and future challenges as it continued to grow.
They found a third-party IT provider, but quickly learned that the provider was better suited to smaller organizations with one or two schools — not a growing system of charter schools. Summer was especially trying, as the provider scrambled to install IT infrastructure, workstations, networks and cabling in time to open new locations. There was no coordinated effort with the system’s facilities management teams, which delayed launch objectives. In addition, the IT partner didn’t have a fully staffed help desk, which slowed technician response when issues arose.
The charter school system decided they needed a new IT partner that could help them on their journey to excellence and continued growth — a partner with the insight to guide product selection, program management, budget planning and facilities coordination so goals could be met on time, every time.
For more than eight years, Ricoh has been providing expert guidance and IT support to the charter school system as it grows to more than 60 schools by 2020. The school system now has a high-performance, reliable and cost-effective IT infrastructure. Its internal IT team has been freed from tasks like maintenance, break-fix, help desk, IT deployment, data protection, security and onboarding new locations. In turn, school administrators are able to direct more of their attention to strategy.
With tailored applications not available in off-the-shelf solutions, school system administrators are able to bring even more innovation to the processes of teaching and learning. And while its students are economically disadvantaged, the schools now have the technology advantages they need to close the achievement gap and prepare students to attend college.
A program manager was brought in to oversee the new location launches, establish a process and use industry best practices to smoothly deploy technology every time a new school opened. We also transitioned the charter school system to a cloud infrastructure — with servers co-located or hosted at a data center — and provided internet access and WAN services for all schools, onsite and remote support for all technology and remote backup of services and workstations.
All totaled, Ricoh is managing and supporting more than 5,000 Chromebooks™, 2,300 staff workstations, 2,200 student workstations, 1,000-plus mobile devices and approximately 1,300 wireless access points to help ensure reliable connectivity. After stabilizing the IT infrastructure for the charter school system, new needs emerged as they continued to grow and add more schools.
We developed a custom intranet curriculum management application based on Microsoft® SharePoint™ to enable teachers to search for information based on curriculum subjects and grade level. We also migrated the charter school system to Microsoft® Office 365™ when its existing server infrastructure reached end-of-life to reduce infrastructure and hardware costs, add storage capacity and improve the hardware replacement lifecycle.