- Oregon's Beaverton School District learned the hard way at the start of the school year that it needed an IT disaster recovery plan when administrators found the district's entire data center offline, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- Adding to the drama, among the hard drives officials found themselves unable to reboot was one containing all of the district's payroll data, with just over two weeks to pay 5,000 staff members.
- To create a plan, districts may need to consult with a third party to ensure protections for all assets are in place and that everything is accounted for, and they should create backups — both physical and digital — for all departments.
While K-12's digital transformation has streamlined many aspects of school and district operations, it hasn't been without its stumbles — especially as administrators confront the need to protect the increasingly vast troves of valuable data. There's more to it than just cybersecurity — though schools have become one of the most popular targets for ransomware and other attacks — and protecting student, faculty and staff information from hackers remains paramount. But administrators must also consider much simpler threats, like human error or inclement weather, that can also set back operations.
In many ways, K-12 is lucky that colleges and universities forged ahead into the digital space years before. Many schools and districts could learn much from the experiences of their higher ed peers, who have suffered through their share of IT horror stories.
University of Richmond CIO Keith McIntosh shared one such story in 2016, about a previous institution where worked. "By the time I became CIO, we found out the hard way — it was a repurposed space, and it worked well for many years and is still in the same area — it was right over plumbing that processed waste and sewage. We had a bad day where the sewage backed up under the raised floor of the data center, and we had inches of water across the whole data center floor with sewage. I will just say — and I’ll stop there — that wasn’t a pleasant day for us at our institution for several days."