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Geneseo schools ready for ransomware threat

Geneseo schools ready for ransomware threat

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WHAT WE KNOW: The Geneseo school district has 1,800 Chromebooks and many MacBook Airs and iPads.

WHAT'S NEW: Technology director James Roodhouse told school board members Thursday that although the district budgeted Chromebooks to last two years, they have been in service for four to five years. He said he recently looked at one that's been in use for five years. "You could tell that's a lot of hands, a lot of in and out of carts." He said Geneseo has refreshed its iPads for the third time, and had 1,000 of the original product in 2007. "Now it's generation seven," he said. He said the process of updating apps on iPads has been streamlined and he's hopeful teachers will find it easier to try new apps. The high school is now on its own network, which is faster without filters required for the grade school.

He also spoke about ransomware, saying one school district whose files were encrypted was asked for $4.7 million and ended up rebuilding their computer system from scratch after five weeks. "Unfortunately, public schools are a big target," he said. "They do usually, if you pay, unencrypt your files and go away." He said in particular what keeps him up at night is the potential loss of the district's "Skyward" system containing grades, financial transactions, transcripts and school records. It maintains a backup on a blue-ray disk.

WHAT'S NEXT: It was announced no fees are anticipated to go up next year with the possible exception of cafeteria prices. The final plan will be presented next month. The board approved a teacher evaluation plan which establishes a state-mandated appeals process if a teacher receives an unsatisfactory review. They also hired Dawn Gale, Rachel Hamilton, Teri Mincks and Ashley Morey as instructional coaches, Kyle Bess as a vocational teacher, Patricia Girten as preschool teacher and Kate Reed as middle school counselor.


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