Chávez/Huerta Embraces Wireless with the Help of ExtremeCloud

Introduction

Founded in 2001, Chávez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy was created to provide an alternative choice for public education. Located in Pueblo, Colorado, Chávez/Huerta’s campus spreads across multiple acres and includes both the César Chávez Academy for K-6 and the Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School. Chávez/Huerta’s primary goal is to accelerate the growth of students in preparation of college and the post-secondary environment for its 1,025 students.

Recognized by U.S. News as one of the “Best High Schools,” Chávez/ Huerta offers unique programs such as mariachi instruction within its music program and provides students with the opportunity to earn a high school as well as associate’s degree. In order to maintain its award winning status in the education space, Chávez/Huerta was looking for a renewed network infrastructure built from the ground up, and decided to install Extreme Networks’ wireless infrastructure to meet the needs of today’s digitally- driven learning environments.

Bringing Wireless into the Mix

With an outdated wired network infrastructure, Chávez/ Huerta was in dire need of a complementary wireless solution to provide faster, more reliable coverage. Due to funding requirements, the first step was to upgrade the wireless network. With 21 buildings that spanned across multiple acres of land, the academy lacked campus-wide coverage, especially in the classrooms where teachers needed connectivity to teach the curriculum. Of the 140 faulty members, 120 teachers took advantage of laptops, yet teachers were struggling to find connectivity and started buying their own Wi-Fi hot spots which created issues with the network. Also, with teachers using several different classrooms throughout the day with an all wired- base network, teachers had to plug in their laptops using cables before each lecture, which eliminated any type of mobility the laptops were meant to o er. The lack of Wi-Fi and coverage hindered students learning experiences, especially during testing periods when bandwidth concerns caused IT to shut down all Wi-Fi to ensure students were able to complete tests online without interruption.

Additionally, with a sole IT manager responsible for all network issues – from troubleshooting to desktop support and even audio visual – the school was challenged in managing all issues that occurred while providing appropriate coverage given the roadblocks the all wired infrastructure created. A great deal of time was spent troubleshooting in computer labs, finding rogue networks when there was a connectivity outage and providing cables to physically plug in laptops. IT also wasted time identifying each individual access point, resetting passwords and reconfiguring each AP due to the lack of management capabilities. With IT working 55-hour work weeks, Chávez/Huerta needed to deploy a brand new wireless infrastructure that was reliable, supported users from one end of the campus to another and was easy to manage.

Keeping It Simple: Ease of Use Wins Over Business

When deciding which vendor to work with, the academy turned to Colorado Computer Support who recommended Extreme for the job. Chávez/Huerta looked at products from Aruba, Cisco Meraki and HP since their existing infrastructure was made up of a mixture of products, including HP switches. However, the interoperability between Extreme’s solutions and existing products that offered easy set up and network management from one centralized point, won the business for Extreme.

Colorado Computer Support and Extreme were hands on right from the start of deployment, assisting in the installation of AP3805 and AP3935 Access Points campus- wide to enhance the existing wired network infrastructure. The Extreme team helped Loretta get up to speed with the functionality of the latest wireless technology in addition to reconfiguring the individual APs that are now manageable from ExtremeCloudTM. Over 70 access points were deployed to improve connectivity across campus and in each classroom – a significant improvement from the original 6 access points that existed. This was the first of many steps in deploying a more complete end-to-end network infrastructure, with plans to upgrade the switches and servers over the next couple of years once the academy receives E-rate funding.

A Step in the Right Direction – A New Beginning for Wireless Connectivity

With the help of Extreme, Chávez/Huerta was able to take its first step in overhauling its entire IT infrastructure for improved performance by introducing the academy to wireless technology. Now, Chávez/Huerta has been able to support its award winning education programs and provide students with an improved learning environment:

No More Cables

Faculty and staff no longer have to fuss with cables. Due to the shift from wired to wireless, they can eliminate the time wasted plugging in laptops or trying to find networks and instead, simply connect to the Wi-Fi. Moving from classroom to classroom is no longer a hassle with the wireless network and faculty can connect whenever and wherever connectivity is needed.

Increased Bandwidth Campus-Wide

By increasing the number of access points to 70, connection across campus and in every classroom has significantly improved. Now the network can support BYOD for students who want to use their phones or laptops in class without having to get permission and go to the computer lab. Additionally, the academy can now support larger groups who use the facilities for meetings. This has made meetings more efficient by providing seamless access to Wi-Fi in any building or classroom.

Management Made Easy

The sole IT staff member can now manage the entire network, and the various vendor products, from one centralized location due to the easy integration with Extreme’s solutions. Whether on campus or working remotely, network access and the ability to troubleshoot is possible anywhere at any time. Additionally, with students and the admin network segregated, IT can manage the usage of bandwidth for each group, such as controlling the use of Pandora in the classroom. With control of the entire network in one place, this will reduce time spent resolving outages or issues and make IT’s job easier.

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