Superintendent’s Corner by Dr. Joe Clark

In an era where cyber threats loom large, the Nordonia Hills City School District has made it clear that cyber security is a top priority. At a Northeast Ohio Network for Educational Technology (NEOnet) meeting, the majority of Nordonia’s Incident Response Plan was formulated, with the aim of finalizing it for presentation during an executive session at an upcoming board meeting. The confidentiality of this plan is paramount, underscoring the gravity of the issue at hand.

Nordonia seized the opportunity to engage with the Ohio Cyber Reserve, a government entity specializing in equipping school districts with cyber security readiness tools. The Ohio Cyber Reserve emphasized that the National Institute of Standards and Technology requirements will soon become obligatory by law. By taking proactive measures, Nordonia hopes to gain a head start on this long and challenging process, aiming to achieve full compliance within the next 12-24 months.

Recognizing the importance of training, Director of Business Casey Wright has joined forces with Sentinel, a company offering readiness training. However, what sets the Ohio Cyber Reserve apart is that its entire process comes at no cost to schools. Furthermore, aligning with the NIST standard will lead to a decrease in cyber insurance premiums.

In the realm of endpoint security, Nordonia has been actively deploying VMWare Carbon Black, robust software offering comprehensive protection against viruses, malware and ransomware. Nordonia has opted for 24/7 remote managed detection, allowing for swift prevention and containment of potential malicious attacks on vulnerable devices.

The district has invested in Abnormal Security, a software service that provides enhanced protection against threats posed by phishing and scam email messages. Over 90% of malicious software attacks originate from these deceptive messages. While Google’s spam filters offer some level of defense, Nordonia’s NEOnet technology directors have acknowledged the need for bolstered safeguards.

High school upgrades

Nordonia High School has witnessed a remarkable transformation in its instructional technology, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the maintenance department. The outdated projectors have been replaced with state-of-the-art 75-inch interactive and non-interactive newline panels. After thorough consultations with department chairs and administrators, it was decided that the allocation of the panels would be based on subject matter.

This comprehensive project, funded by the permanent improvement fund, includes a 6-year warranty on the devices. Nordonia’s partnership with Newline/CDW-G has resulted in substantial discounts, enabling the deployment of nearly 225 panels across all grade levels by the end of this summer.

Final Forms

In preparation for the 2023-2024 school year, Nordonia has been migrating its current forms system to Final Forms. Clear instructions for parents on what to anticipate during this seamless transition are forthcoming on the district’s website. Administrative assistants in each building have received extensive training, and further training sessions will be facilitated in August. This shift promises to be a timesaving measure as it consolidates all emergency medical authorization and athletic forms onto a single platform.

Computer updates

The nearly decade-old Mac devices and monitors in the high school digital photography lab are being replaced with sleek, lightning-fast iMacs. These all-in-one devices will enable students to excel in their coursework, fostering creativity and technical proficiency.

While the computers in middle school teacher Andrew Matlack’s lab were beginning to show signs of slowing down, a complete replacement was not deemed necessary. Instead, Nordonia has opted to upgrade the memory and reconfigure the software, prolonging their usability for another two school years. These computers were originally acquired through Nordonia’s CVCC Partnership Dollars program, demonstrating the district’s commitment to prudent resource allocation.

Chromebook rollout

In early August, Nordonia will again host its Chromebook rollout. This year, around 600 Chromebooks will be deployed, equipping students with the tools they need for a successful academic year.

As Nordonia relentlessly pursues advancements in technology and cyber security, the district sets a commendable example in prioritizing the safety of its students and staff while ensuring a modern and conducive learning environment. ∞