Three Minute Update: September 23, 2008

Network Security– Recently, several email addresses were compromised and used to distribute SPAM from our servers.  After investigating the causes, we determined that very simple passwords have been used by some users.  A simple password is generally short and only contains letters, and these are very simple for automated programs to compromise. This poses a risk to our network and various servers/services, and users (with the exception of students) will be asked to change passwords this week, using more stringent minimum requirements.  A thorough communication will be sent, highlighting the minimum standards and identifying the specific date that the password change will take place.  Last year, all employees changed their password, and the process was relatively uneventful. 

Technology Committee Update – The technology committee dates have been established and sent to principals.  This year we will have one full committee meeting each month, and two subcommittee meetings each month.  The two subcommittee meetings will consist of one meeting for elementary and middle school committee members, and one for high school committee members.  Principals will be submitting names of volunteers who will serve on this committee. 

Email Delivery Problems – Last week there were two issues that impacted our email system.  Both have been resolved.  Please share with your colleagues/staff as necessary.  The first issue was related to a filter at BOCES that was reconfigured, releasing many messages and causing some delays in our system.  The second issue was caused by an email account that whose access was compromised, resulting in a fairly extensive increase in traffic on our servers and filters.  Again, both issues have been resolved. 

School Web Lockers – The http://ccsd.schoolweblockers.com service to which we subscribe is now populated with teachers, students and rosters that reflect the 2008-09 school year.  Every student in grades 4-12 has an account, and all teachers have accounts.  Students can log on to the system using the username and initial password with which they were provided in the beginning of the school year.  Teachers can use the schoolweblockers system to electronically distribute documents and files to their students. With the click of a mouse, a teacher can share a file to a class folder, automatically making that file available to all students registered in the class!  Toni Piscitelli and John Calvert have been providing professional development opportunities this week, and “cheat sheets” are available online at www.ccsd.edu/support. 

Eval Pro – The EvalPro system is functional, with a variety of modifications and improvements made over the summer based on the feedback from principals, directors, and department chairs.  The tool bar has been revamped to load more quickly and to also include mathematics symbols.  Users should remember that this is an online system, and like all online systems is a bit different than Microsoft Word or other desktop programs.  Pausing to let the page load completely and saving frequently are two steps that can minimize the chance of many potential problems.  Additionally, the program auto saves regularly, but if it does so while you are typing, you will lose the work that you type while it is auto saving.  We are evaluating the benefit of this feature with the vendor, but saving regularly and being aware of stopping while it autosaves will reduce the chance of losing information. 

Restricting access to web based email (non-ccsd) – Effective October 1, 2008, teachers and students will no longer have access to personal email accounts from district computers.  Students should be encouraged to use schoolweblockers to share files from home to school and school to home.  A detailed letter regarding this was sent to all staff on Friday afternoon.  This change was discussed extensively last year, and students should be reminded that this restriction was delayed until the pilot of school web lockers was reviewed and the data for the current school year was imported into the system.  

CCSD Goes Green – The Clarkstown Central School District is launching an electronic process for sending approved flyers from outside organizations to families with students in our schools. Outside organizations will no longer be required to produce the 10,000 copies of flyers (20 reams of paper) necessary for one District-wide distribution.  Effective October 1, 2008, the school district will electronically distribute the variety of flyers from not-for-profit organizations that are approved for distribution within the District.  The flyers will be digitized by the district and forwarded in one weekly delivery to parents.  Recipients will have an opportunity to “unsubscribe” if they do not wish to receive the flyers, and removing one’s name from this new list will not impact any other email system or mailing list.  

SMART Boards – With the exception of a new math classroom at South High School, a new kindergarten section at Strawtown, and a remaining commitment for installing a SMART Board at the FFMS library classroom (Foundation Grant), the SMART Board installations are now finalized.  More than 90 SMART Boards were installed this summer.  If there are any problems with a SMART Board or installation in your school, please follow the proper tech support process (Tech TA at elementary schools, Technician at secondary schools, who will then escalate as necessary).

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