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Case Study

Faster Device Collection and Distribution, Increased Accountability, and Less Asset Loss

How the Technology Department at South Huntington School District manages and tracks devices for each student and staff member.

South Huntington School District Hero Image

District Background

Right off the Long Island Expressway, South Huntington School District is home to around 5,800 students and over 1,000 staff members. Reanna Fulton, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, oversees instructional technology and information technology. That includes managing Chromebooks and other devices for the district’s 1:1 program, which includes students, staff, and some support staff.

Many residents in the district rent their homes, and Reanna says that students transition into and out of schools at a faster rate than she has seen at other districts — which adds to the work of distributing, tracking, collecting, and maintaining devices.

Spreadsheets Don’t Cut It

Reanna knows what it’s like to use disparate systems to manage technology and keep up with service requests. When she began working in her previous district, staff traveled around to schools, doing inventories in spreadsheets to get an idea of what hardware existed. The system they were using at the time didn’t track the information they needed to identify who a device was assigned to or to which building it moved. It was difficult to categorize and group assets. Support tickets languished in Google Forms.

When Reanna began working at South Huntington in July 2021, she saw similar issues. Haphazard device check-in and check-out processes would take a week to complete, and records were incomplete. As devices aged, there was no standard process to ensure they would still be supported. “One of the things that’s important here is ensuring that we have devices that are working and not expired,” says Reanna. Early in her time at the district, she noticed over 1,000 Chromebooks had reached their end-of-life dates but were still in students’ hands.

Not only did Reanna need help managing the thousands of assets in schools or sent home with students and staff, but she also needed a way to manage help desk tickets to keep all that technology working. “My biggest concern was more about the help desk — getting an easy way to put tickets in, because of the large population of students and staff,” she says. “I need something that’s able to have tickets, give me data, let me know who’s closing their tickets, route to the appropriate buildings.”

Choosing Frontline for Inventory Management

Reanna and her team selected Frontline’s Help Desk Management and Asset Management solution (previously known as GetHelp and TipWeb-IT) to solve these problems. She saw how much Asset Management could help streamline device distribution and tracking and increase transparency and accountability. And she saw the way it integrates with Help Desk Management, so when devices are brought in for service, each asset’s information is shared, tracked, and updated.

When it came time to get started with Frontline, Reanna reached out to her vendors for lists of devices that the district had purchased within the previous 2 years. She then took that information, added the serial numbers and asset tags, and uploaded it into Asset Management. She also added each device’s Mac address, so when something pops up on the network, she can identify it and note where it is. “It’s a huge task to get the import done. But once you get it done, then you stay current.”

The Results

Faster Device Distribution and Collection

Now, every single Chromebook for grades 9-12 — thousands of devices — has been replenished. Reanna’s team added the serial numbers and asset tags to Asset Management ahead of time so when the day came to swap them out, they were ready. Kids would bring their old devices back, and the team used barcode scanners to scan student IDs and the barcodes on the devices being collected and those being issued. “We have a table set up. Somebody’s there to sort them, somebody’s there to take the cases off, and then we’re there like scan, scan, done. It helps everything go so much faster doing it that way.”

Teachers were pleasantly surprised. “It went so fast that they were shocked. Within a matter of five minutes, a whole class of students had new Chromebooks and were already back on the way to their class.” The process used to take a solid week. Now, Reanna says, it only takes a day or two.

Reanna Fulton Photo

“Within a matter of five minutes, a whole class of students had new Chromebooks and were already back on the way to their class.”

Reanna Fulton, Ed.D.,
– Assistant Superintendent for Student Services

Less Device Loss

When students are issued a device, they sign for it electronically, which adds accountability. “We’d scan their ID and scan the device out to them, and then we’d make sure that the email went to the parent — they get the receipt sent to them. That way there was complete transparency. Parents couldn’t say, ‘I didn’t know.’”

Because Asset Management syncs with Google’s Chromebook system, her team can see who last logged into a given device, and when. The ability to track who is responsible for each item enables them to communicate with students and parents, and if necessarily, bill for lost items. “Every single one of the devices that we’ve gotten, we’ve been able to maintain our inventory, where in the past they would get scattered and nobody knew where they went.”

Simpler Ticketing

Because Help Desk Management and Asset Management are part of the same system, when a student or staff member submits a support ticket, that device’s information is available at a glance, including serial number, site location, who the device is assigned to, and the complete ticket history. Reanna says that her team can respond to tickets more quickly and have a better picture of what’s going on. “Using both together increases productivity and significantly reduces the amount of loss our district would have had in the past,” she says.

“Using [Help Desk and Asset Management] together increases productivity and significantly reduces the amount of loss our district would have had in the past.”

Reanna Fulton, Ed.D.,
– Assistant Superintendent for Student Services

She can also look at the data to identify where most repair requests come from. (If you guessed middle school students, you wouldn’t be wrong.) She can also identify individual students who have a habit of breaking devices. “If we have a student who comes in frequently or a device that’s coming up frequently, we can go back and look to see the pattern. Two students last week, they’re frequent fliers with breaking their devices. Even though we have insurance, we can send that ticket back to the building and make sure they’re called by the principal to say, ‘Your child once again didn’t have their case on and broke their screen. This is how much it’s costing the district.’”

Better Financial Decisions

Frontline helps Reanna make the right financial decisions for technology at South Huntington. “The inventory piece is really very big. Looking at where we started, with not having an idea of the replenishment cycle to where we’re moving to now, it’s really helping to keep the district’s spending under control, which is a huge piece.”

“It’s really helping to keep the district’s spending under control, which is a huge piece.”

Reanna Fulton, Ed.D.,
– Assistant Superintendent for Student Services

The ability to look forward and know when devices will need to be replaced helps her budget and plan appropriately. “I’m able to pull out and see, ‘How many devices did we purchase last year? What was the cost?’ and know that within five years we’re going to have to replace them again. It helps us to have that roadmap.” This is especially true for smart boards and Chromebooks. “The model end of life for the Chromebooks is a huge problem. It was something that people weren’t tracking. So when a Chromebook would expire, they were like, ‘What do you mean it’s expired?’ Now you’re able to look at the end of life and get an expiration date.”

When Reanna needs to purchase new devices, quick access to the right information makes her job easier. “The biggest piece that I love this about this is that instead of going through and looking at old purchase orders, I’m able to look up the manufacturer and figure out which models we got in the past. If we’re talking about different types of switches or Chromebooks or computers or a firewall, I’m able to go back and look at which model we have.” 

Reporting and Compliance

Reanna tags devices to the funding source used to purchase them, and can report which items were purchased with grants, E-Rate funds, ESSER funds, or came from the local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). “There are times when they asked for that in the past and people were scrambling to figure out, ‘What did we purchase from this grant?’ I’m able to import it using that information, and then provide them serial, asset tag, costs, and all that stuff.”

Sometimes assets purchased with specific funds can only be used in certain ways or by certain people, and the reporting ability lets her show that everything is being used in compliance with the funding criteria.

A Smoother Relationship with Finance

The Business Office only tracks assets that meet a certain price threshold, which excludes many technology assets. Reanna worked with them to agree that the Technology Department would track its own assets. “Maybe it’s $100-200, and if it has a serial, I’ll throw an asset tag on it, and now we know what we checked out to those people, so when those people leave the district, we have to know that we get it back from them.”

When the Business Office needs information, Reanna can easily generate a report to provide the information. “I have so much more accountability when I use a dedicated asset program. So much so that my business office doesn’t even track the assets. I track the assets and download the report and give it to them so they have it.”

School technology departments have enough on their plates, and anything Reanna can do to trim unnecessary work is a good thing. Faster device collection and distribution, easier access to information, lower amounts of loss, and the ability to plan and budget for the future… Reanna says that her colleagues see the benefit, too. “Everybody appreciates the process of how this helps us function and get a snapshot of what we have out there. I think it’s great.”