Concord School District cancels school due to server malfunction

  • Concord High School

Monitor staff
Published: 12/7/2022 3:13:41 PM

A computer server shut-down that left schools without wifi or phone connections at first delayed and then ultimately canceled school for students and staff in the Concord on Monday.

School District Facilities Director Matt Cashman was notified by a head custodian about unusually high temperatures in the District’s server room around 5 a.m. Monday morning, due to the failure of one of two large air conditioning units that run constantly in the interior room to keep the large server at a temperature range of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Superintendent Kathleen Murphy said Monday that temperatures in the room reached 122 degrees, which caused the server to shut down. 

The district’s wifi and phone systems, which are tied in to the server, were non operational.

“All of the systems went down,” Murphy told School Board members at a meeting Monday night. “All of our business products, also all of the systems that we use for Student Information System, that was down. That didn't come back until this afternoon, and the phones were somewhat intermittent throughout the afternoon.”

Initially, Murphy made the decision to delay school, thinking the IT team might be able to get the server up and running in time for school. But they soon realized it would take longer to get the district back online, and canceled school for the day.

“Some people said ‘the kids could just do books, paper and pencil,’ and if that were just the case we would have done books and paper and pencil today,” Murphy said. “But it was more about the issues around safety, and each and every one of the buildings in the city having the ability to reach out should there be an emergency.”

Cashman said he got a temporary air conditioner to put in the room, called in an HVAC technician who got one of the units running, and then called in the company that typically services those units for the district. 

“Both units were running about 2:30, 3:00,” Cashman told school board members Monday night. “But we still had to keep the temperature down on the internal servers that are on the tower. They were still reading high temps even after we started to cool the room down, so IT worked extremely hard to get them slowly brought back online.”

Murphy said district officials are still investigating various causes that led to the situation, including why the air conditioning units were not serviced sooner, and why a school employee did not receive two alarm notifications that went off due to the rising temperatures.

“I expect that probably this will come to Capital Facilities (Committee) in the near future, where we will reevaluate our preventative maintenance program with regards to this, because it is certainly unfortunate and somewhat unusual that you have two redundant systems fail at a time,” School Board president Jim Richards said. “I would expect that we would be looking at evaluating the sizing of the equipment, because as we have expanded our computer capabilities, our servers, all the devices that we put in that room, you need to reevaluate your ability to to handle that load.”

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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