SHELTON — Educators are moving forward with an evaluation of the district’s technology needs as staff, parents and students alike continue to raise concerns about the schools’ IT deficiencies.

The Board of Education, at its Zoom meeting Wednesday, voted unanimously to spend $26,932 to retain ChimeNet Inc. to conduct two IT audits of the district. A timetable was not given, but the board stated that the audit would pinpoint weaknesses in the district’s system.

“This is money being spent to find out what we need,” said board member Diana Meyer.

The ever-changing technology needs of both the city and school district — and the potentially significant costs associated with such upgrades — led Board of Aldermen President John Anglace to call for creation of a standing technology committee in the city charter.

The Charter Revision Commission ultimately included this standing committee among several charter revisions going before the voters on Nov. 3.

The major concern, at present, is the district’s server strength, school board members said Wednesday.

Glenn Newman, the district’s director of technology, said the two audits will be focused on current network capabilities within the schools’ wired and wireless infrastructure.

The audits will assess network bandwidth and overall performance and provide professional recommendations, Newman said.

“These audits will assess and determine necessary networking equipment upgrades throughout all of our buildings in order to effectively meet the needs of our students and staff into the future,” he said.

Newman said the school district is adding thousands of devices to its networks to allow teachers to provide information and lessons students can access in a distance learning world.

Interim Superintendent Beth Smith said that 701 Chromebooks for high school students will be arriving soon. The district has also been awarded a $25,000 Lockheed Martin grant, which is being used to purchase 400 cameras to allow teachers to better handle distance learning.

“We need to ensure that we can meet these needs efficiently, effectively, reliably and securely as we navigate a heavier reliance on technology going forward,” Newman said.

Newman was hired this past summer and said his focus from day one has been to identify and address the immediate technological needs of the district so it can operate optimally during and after the pandemic.

That includes providing 1-to-1 devices for students while also ensuring the district’s instructional staff have access to the requisite technologies they need to deliver effective instruction, he said.

“Making sure our infrastructure can meet these new demands not only now but continually is paramount,” Newman said.

ChimeNet Inc. is a professional services company that provides technical engineering for several school districts and municipalities as well as corporate and healthcare organizations throughout the state.

ChimeNet Inc. already manages the Shelton schools’ fiber-optic network lines and edge networking equipment, “so (ChimeNet) will be able to adequately assess our entire network infrastructure from end to end,” Newman said.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com