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All but three laptops returned to school district

Of the 1,800 laptops issued to students at the Oxford Middle and High Schools, only three remain unaccounted for, according to a technology report presented Monday to the Oxford School District Board.

IT Director Mike Fortenberry said two of the missing laptops have not been turned in as of Monday and one was reported by the user as being “misplaced.”

“Efforts continue to retrieve these devices,” the report stated.

A total of 4,659 computers and tablets were used during the school year. Most of the staff were issued a laptop and an iPad.

The district spent $38,000 on fixing accidental damage to the computers. Most of the damage was due to the screens being cracked or liquid damage.

Fortenberry said the district has purchased higher quality cases for the laptops to help prevent the screens from cracking.

“The liquid damage is just behavior issues,” he said. “Spilling drinks that are kept too close to the computer.”

Fortenberry said he would be working with principals and the schools in getting more education out to the students about how they can avoid damaging the computers.

During the 2014-2015 school year, the district spent almost double on repairs to the laptops, close to $60,000.

“However, everyone in our department is now Apple certified and we can do most of the repairs ourselves, which has saved us a lot of money,” he said.

All middle and high school students were given Macbooks two years ago as part of the 1:1 Initiative. The students keep the Macbook throughout the year to use for school work and return them at the end of the year where they are cleaned up and updated for the new school year.

Ransomware attack

Fortenberry reported that all work required to recover from the ransomware attack earlier in the school year has been completed. His staff continues to develop and implement improved server and data storage and access procedures to help reduce the chance of it happening again, Fortenberry said.

These new procedures will include, but are not limited to, more restrictive user account permissions, more restrictive network access policies, expanded server and data backup procedures, development of a off-site disaster recovery location to house redundant servers, development of regular system security scans and audits, and overall review of practices and procedures to ensure adherence to industry standard best practices guidelines for network and server operations.

“It consumed us for about two months,” Fortenberry said.

Ransomware can be contracted through a variety of ways including an infected email or a website advertisement. Once it is in the system, it encrypts files and demands money be sent in exchange.

The ransom demanded from OSD was in the neighborhood of $9,000 and infected 80 computers in the district; however, the district did not pay the ransom.

Superintendent Brian Harvey commended Fortenberry and his staff for getting the district past the event.

“You did a tremendous job getting us back up and running,” Harvey said.