Memphis City Schools (MCS), the largest public school system in Tennessee and the 23rd largest in the nation, operates over 200 campuses and serves more than 105,000 students. Like many large, urban school districts, MCS faces budgetary constraints, the growing needs of an expanding school system and the challenges of adequately preparing all students for life and work in the 21st century. And with a core belief that 21st century success involves proficient use of a wide array of technology, MCS actively pursues an aggressive technology plan to ensure all district facilities are modernized and can accommodate every student.
In the past 18 months, the district has implemented two major projects in support of its information technology goals.
The first project was a complete redesign and upgrade of the district’s ATM network infrastructure to an IP-based high-speed, fiber-optic wide area network (WAN), to support online applications and enhanced Internet access. The second project entailed upgrading the district’s voice over ATM telephony system to a fully hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, ENA Connect. The five-year contract was awarded to ENA in January 2009 and the installation of the WAN and ENA Connect VoIP service was completed in April 2010. The work included the transition of 190 sites and the installation and configuration of 13,500 telephone and fax extensions.
The district selected ENA, a provider of managed network and communication services, because of their experience and management skills in K-12 projects. MCS Chief Technology Officer Curtis Timmons explained the improvements, saying, “Every student, teacher and administrator in MCS has now at their fingertips high-speed bandwidth of at least 10 megabits and up to one gigabit. That’s a huge pipeline for securely supporting our data, voice and video. Moreover, ENA is responsible for managing, maintaining and monitoring our end-to-end connectivity.”
In addition, MCS has also procured Gaggle, a leading student e-mail and collaboration tool and netTrekker, an academic Internet search engine engineered specifically for a safe learning environment, for all its students through ENA’s Consortium Program. The program offers instructional and communication products at bulk-negotiated discount rates.
“Through this partnership, we have a world-class, best-practice IT foundation with which to launch critical instructional, professional development and operational solutions,” said Dr. Irving Hamer, Deputy Superintendent of Academic Operations, Technology and Innovation. “It’s the necessary architecture for improving both student achievement and the bottom line, now and in the future.”