Monday, October 22, 2007

The Power of Technology???

Last Wednesday afternoon we were told by our power conservation contractor that we were going to have to cut power consumption in the district by 500kwh between the hours of 1 and 2 on Thursday. This type of less than 24 hour notice cut back can save the district a good amount of money if we can meet the mark.

Still, with less than 24 hours to plan, this was bound to be a challenge. Add to that the communication challenge of making it happen and you get a mess. Let's start with how the communication went.

The Secretary to the Superintendent sent out an email to all administrators stating a MANDATORY power conservation period from 1 to 2pm. This message went out at 3pm on Wednesday. The message stated that all steps were to be taken to conserve power including shutting down ALL computer systems. The tech department was instructed by our network coordinator to remotely shut down all computers and building level servers at 12:55pm.

As Thursday morning hit, the tech dept. was going over the procedures to shut down the servers as well as restart them so this could go off without a hitch. This is a complicated process when you are talking about 8 authentication and data servers, as well as 8 application servers. Luckily, we would not have to shut down the servers in the administration center.

At 8:30, I decided to call each principal personally to ensure their staff had been notified. The High School Principal, the first I called, had autonomously decided not to notify his staff. He felt that because the marking period had ended on Wednesday and grades were due Monday, it just wasn't a good idea. I tried to stand firm and told him it was a mandatory situation and he should call the Assistant Superintendent for Buildings and Grounds who then referred him to the Superintendent of Schools when he would not give in.

The Superintendent agreed with the HS principal and allowed him to keep the HS functional and instruct the staff to turn things off manually unless they were used for grading. When I was made aware of this, I notified the Superintendent that the grading issue was not isolated at the HS as our Middle Schools had grades due at the same time. At 10:30am the Middle Schools were informed that they could stay up for grading as well.

The Elementary Schools shut down and came back up as planned. We will not know for e few weeks if we met the required minimum reduction to receive our rebate of a few THOUSAND dollars. I do know that our desktop computers district wide use 675kw/h. Thats right.. just the desktops, no servers, switches, routers, or printers.

Yes 24 hours notice is very short. However, communication here should have been much clearer. Our buildings and grounds people should have immediately gotten together with the superintendent, principals, and tech department so that all of this could have been cleared the night before and those of us who were running around all morning Thursday could have avoided the expenditure of all the Advil! Report cards being due was no surprise.

All in all though, as we monitored things from the central office, we only had 21 computers on at the HS during that 1 hour period. I think the principal may have over reacted at the down time, but I am sure he didn't want to have 21 teachers arguing with him that they couldn't get their grades in on time. If we had gotten the message out earlier that any use other than report cards needed to be curtailed, my day would have been a whole lot more sane!

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