Cyber security upgrades at West Jeff Schools

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(Posted Jan. 10, 2023)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

The technology department at Jefferson Local Schools is implementing upgrades as part of its cyber security initiative. Technology Director Curt Dennis provided an update at the school board’s Jan. 9 meeting.

An external company conducted a Google audit, looking at all aspects of the district’s Google domain, including user accounts and general settings.

“They provided a 125-page document on all the stuff we did right and suggestions for setting changes, including documentation on where the change is made and the reason behind it,” Dennis said.

“There was also a two-hour call with the expert to go over the findings and discuss them at length. This type of audit is needed every three to five years due to Google changing things within their environment almost every day.”

The district’s technology department also upgraded three of their four host servers to the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2022 Datacenter. The district’s cafeteria server has been moved to a hosted environment, making it easier to maintain software and improve data flow.

“Now, when parents put it in (account payments), it’s immediately there,” said Dennis. “It was a good change we made during the summer.”

All of the staff’s PCs at Norwood Elementary were upgraded to the latest Windows desktop operating system last summer. Dennis said the same upgrade likely will take place this summer at the high school/middle school.

“Mark Engles (treasurer) and I attended a Cyber Awareness Workshop in December and, by doing so, were awarded a $3,348 grant to put towards cyber security,” Dennis said. “We put that grant towards the two-factor authentication keys and part of the Google audit.”

In regular action on Jan. 9, the board accepted a clothing donation valued at $600 for the district’s school store from Dave and Liz Harper and Susie Higgins.

A new $135 daily pay rate for substitute teachers was approved, in addition to a new permanent substitute rate of $150 per day.

Home instruction tutors will be paid $33 per hour for the balance of the 2022-23 school year and then $34 per hour for the following year.

Board members also approved the appointment of Scott Scriven LLP as district legal counsel for 2023 at a rate of $100–$140 per hour for legal assistants and $215-$325 per hour for attorneys.

“We’ve been with Scott Scriven for at least 15 years and haven’t felt a need to go somewhere else,” said Superintendent William Mullett. “They understand the nuances and have a history with the district.”

Prior to the regular meeting, the board held its yearly organizational meeting. Dr. Meg Hiss was reelected as board president and Whitney Duemmel was reelected as vice president.

The board is changing its regular meeting day to the second Tuesday of the month after decades of meeting on the second Monday of the month.

Duemmel said her biggest concern has been with board information packets coming out on Friday just prior to the meeting on Monday.

Board members briefly discussed changing the meeting time, as well, then decided against it.

“Maybe just one change at a time,” said Hiss before the board approved moving the meeting day to the second Tuesday of the month beginning in February. The meeting time remains 7 p.m.

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