Solving for School Budget Cuts, Bandwidth, Unequal Student Access, and Supply Shortages

Schools across the nation struggle with issues centered on technology: from budget cuts to bandwidth, unequal student access to technology and devices to supply chain shortages. We interviewed the leaders of CTS Client Management (Mike McKee) and Professional Services (Ritaly Rapaport)  as well as its Founder (Sachin Gujral) to get some insight into how CTS addresses these needs and mitigates these issues for its clients.

How does CTS help schools with students below the poverty line who have no devices and no connectivity at home to utilize school-issued devices?

We provide resources to school Operations teams to inform them about available options for free, low cost or otherwise subsidized services they could make use of to aid such students. We help them utilize programs like ERATE ECF (Cares Act).

What about student absenteeism and disengagement, especially due to inadequate technical implementation or remote learning?

CTS works to support any technical platforms schools use and works with staff regularly to overcome obstacles or tech issues affecting staff or students. This would not directly battle absenteeism, but we hope that our support of technology platforms allows our schools to not worry about the technology and really focus on the needs of their students and families. One thing we do is provide installation and training on tools such as GoGuardian, allowing teachers to track student progress more closely.

And is this useful, also, in securing systems students and schools use for online learning?

CTS makes available a number of security services and platforms to keep kids safe online. All CTS schools benefit from managed, category-based Web Filtering which prevents kids from accessing inappropriate content. Many schools also supplement this with platforms such as GoGuardian which can extend protection to homes or any other locations. GoGuardian provides other monitoring services, such as suicide prevention detection and alerting and various alerts regarding other dangerous or inappropriate behaviors. CTS is frequently engaged by schools to assist with applying Best Practices to such deployments. We can help schools vet solutions and implement them, including setup and training. These systems include student information systems, lottery systems, testing platforms, online learning platforms, Clever (SSO) GSuite, and many others.

What can CTS do about schools’ difficulties sourcing student devices with supply chain disruptions and shortages, especially at the start of the school year or when many devices need to be replaced.

Since 2020 CTS has been instrumental in overcoming shortages for clients. Initially, we assisted by scouring the earth for any available technologies and purchasing them for our schools to ensure something was available. Throughout 2021 we have been able to maintain a significant stock of student devices in partnership with Samsung and Lenovo and the dedication of nearly $1M to inventory and have been able to deliver devices throughout the year without interruptions. We bulk purchase thousands of devices when available on our Line of Credit, so they are available when schools need them. We continue finding new suppliers and keep in touch with over a dozen suppliers at any given time to understand stock levels and remain prepared.

How do you help schools, districts, and school networks intelligently select and source student technology, so the tech purchased is congruent with the actual need of the students/school rather than just a big bill?

There are two components to this. First, it’s knowing and communicating with the school. Having someone who gets to really know them and their needs and is able to speak on their behalf and advocate for their requirements. Our Client Managers are trained extensively to do this. Second is having a library of tested and vetted solutions from which we can select the right choice for a client. CTS keeps a list of approved and vetted products – over 900 items in all – that we have evaluated and which are available to be deployed to resolve client needs by our Solutions and Engineering teams. These two strategies, coupled together create the synergy necessary to get the right technology to the right client at the right price.

Some schools have horrible bandwidth in their school or district-provided internet connections and wifi hotspots. How can you help with that?

CTS assists many of our clients with selecting, ordering, and delivering high-performance internet services into their buildings and ensuring reliable, continuously monitored service. We also help schools upgrade through the federal ERATE program and manage the entire installation process to deliver a final, working product. We directly sell internet to schools and can provide quotes, installs, and ongoing management of upgraded bandwidth with accompanying networking equipment.

What about at the level of server efficiency and each school’s readiness to support new school sessions on day one — vs. the potential server crashes, slowness, etc, experienced by some schools?

We stay on top of that. All maintained technologies receive routine maintenance and service from both remote and onsite technical staff on a recurring basis. CTS keeps and tracks monthly, quarterly, and annual maintenance checklists for supported equipment that keeps it up and running with a high degree of reliability. We also monitor all equipment under contract and respond proactively within minutes in the event of a problem being detected. We can head off and mitigate any such problems typically through consistent updates using automated tools, server monitoring, and tracked reboots by our Network Operations Center team.

For a deeper understanding of how we can help your school, district, or school network solve for X in the area of technology, technology funding, and student access to technology, reach out (with the form bel0w) and let’s have a powerful conversation.

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