La Mesa-Spring Valley School District is a K-8 district located in the East County of San Diego. The District serves 14,310 students housed in 18 elementary (K-5) and four middle schools (6-8). Certificated and classified employees number 1,550.
District-wide there are approximately 1,600 workstations running on a Novell core network. Though Windows workstations are used by administrative staff, Macs are used for educational purposes – students and teachers. The Macs mainly run OS 10.2.8 to 10.3.9 with any new hardware purchases having OS 10.4 (there are also some older machines still running OS 8 & 9, but these are slowly being phased out.)La Mesa-Spring Valley School District has an annual budget of $100,000,000 and an approximate student-to-computer ratio of 10:1 (on computers less than three years old.)
At the time that La Mesa-Spring Valley was transitioning to Mac OS X, the Information Systems (IS) staff realized that, though the operating system offered an environment that was more “kid-proof ”, there were still general worries with regard students “explorations” and general OS integrity.“Middle-schoolers are notoriously mischievous when it comes to computers,” said Richard Ribley, a Support Technician at La Mesa-Spring Valley. “They like to change things just because they can, whether that means taking items off the Dock, moving files to different locations or changing the toolbar in an application like Word. This would, of course, screw up the machine for the next person or even for the same person coming back to that machine later.”
Mr. Ribley and the La Mesa-Spring Valley IS staff found that the teachers often wouldn’t know how to rectify user-created difficulties or, if they did, would spend more time fixing the problems than teaching – a situation that didn’t work for either teacher or students. Generally, the teacher would end up calling the IS staff. With a staff of six and a schedule that meant that a staff member could only visit a school once every five days, a computer could easily be out of commission for a week.
In their preventative efforts, the IT staff implemented pop-up blocker software for Windows Explorer When OS 8 and 9 were being utilized, La Mesa-Spring Valley utilized programs like On Guard (which they still use on their older systems) and Foolproof Security. With their transition to OS X, a security solution that worked with OS 10.2 (Jaguar) had to be implemented quickly or computer downtime and over-stretched staff would become an ongoing problem. Attempting to use Jaguar’s Simple Finder to curtail precocious users proved unworkable because this solution did not allow for a shortcut to the District’s Novell server and, therefore, students could not log in to their network accounts. There were no known OS X alternatives out there.
“The difference that using Deep Freeze Mac made was huge,” said Mr. Ribley. “Immediately, we saw the amount of support time devoted to our Macs easily cut to 5% of what we had been spending prior to installing Deep Freeze. Deep Freeze eliminated 95% of all the software issues we were encountering so that almost the only difficulties we had were hardware-related.”