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INFORM Digital Magazine

C NNECT Connecting you with Technology



A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Welcome to the Spring 2017 edition of “INFORM”—Connect’s digital magazine.

5700 West Canal Road Valley View, OH 44125 216.520.6900 1885 Lake Avenue Elyria, OH 44035 440.324.3185


In this issue, we provide updates on the software and some tips and tricks as you might expect. Connect staff have also provided some timely and relevant insight on current technology issues. Jeff Rakar contributed an article on cyber security and provides some suggestions to protect your school’s digital assets. Josh Pease offers some resources available to you and your students to discern the difference between fake news and real news. Our student department provides an update on electronic report cards which have the potential to reduce costs associated with printing and distributing report cards. Please take a few minutes to review our digital magazine.

We are all looking forward to summer activities available to us in Northeast Ohio. We are fortunate to have many activities available to us such as the NBA playoffs, baseball games, thrills at Cedar Point, relaxing in the Cleveland Metroparks or the Cuyahoga National Forest to name just a few. Our hope is that you have a chance to enjoy summer in Northeast Ohio. Connect continues to strive to be your one stop shop for all of your technology needs. If you have ideas on future stories that you would like us to cover in this magazine, feel free to contact any of our Connect staff or me. - John Mitchell, Executive Director, Connect


DID YOU KNOW? CONNECT offers TWO web-based student information systems PEARSON PowerSchool & ProgressBook Suite

CONNECT hosts ALL of our own systems INTERNALLY. That means we can be more responsive to our customers' needs.

CONNECT & the ESC of Cuyahoga County introduce EMIS ACADEMY a certification program for our member districts beginning fall 2017

CONNECT a STRONG ALLIANCE ESC of Cuyahoga County ESC of Lorain County ESC of Medina County Ohio Schools Council & CONNECT

CONNECT more than 3,300 EDUCATORS attended 275 WORKSHOPS That's 1,300 hours of training!

CALENDAR OF EVENTS For a full listing of all upcoming events at both Connect East (Valley View) and Connect West (Elyria), please visit

Student May 10 9:00AM - 11:30AM ProgressBook Suite End of Year Meeting Connect East - Valley View May 11 9:00AM - 12:00PM StudentInformation Discussion Connect East - Valley View May 16 1:00PM - 3:30PM Student & EMIS Advisory Committee Meeting Connect East - Valley View May 17 9:00AM - 12:00PM StudentInformation Elementary Scheduling Connect East - Valley View May 17 9:00AM - 12:00PM PowerSchool Discussion Connect West - Elyria May 31 1:00PM - 3:30PM PowerSchool Final S Reporting Connect West - Elyria

Technology May 19 1:30PM - 3:30PM Tech Advisory Meeting North Olmsted Public Library






Jeff Rakar is a Network Security Engineer for Connect. He has been with Connect since 1998.

It is amazing when I walk into a school and see all of the services that the kids and staff use daily. It makes me very proud that I am part of making sure that service is available for our customers. - Jeff Rakar

Jeff received an Associate of Electronics. He establishes networking environments (LAN, WAN, Wireless, VoIP) by designing system configuration; directing system installation; defining, documenting, and enforcing system standards. He maximizes network performance by monitoring performance; troubleshooting network problems and outages; scheduling upgrades; collaborating with network architects on network optimization. He also secures the network system by establishing and enforcing policies; defining and monitoring access. Jeff currently holds a CCNP Security certification with Cisco Systems. Prior to working at Connect, Jeff was lead telephone engineer for nine years at McDonald and Company.

Jeff has worked hard to foster excellent relationships with the technical staff at our schools and is always conscientious to provide both practical and realistic network support that meets the needs of our customers. - John Mitchell, Executive Director You can reach Jeff at: Phone: 216-520-6900 x5185 Email: LinkedIn: Address: 5700 West Canal Road Valley View, OH 44125



STUDENT SERVICES The student services team is pleased to offer a new report card feature for our PowerSchool districts. The electronic report card, or eReport Card, was developed by the team to allow traditional-styled report cards to be viewed online within the parent & student portals. The eReport Card includes many of the same features of a printed report card, including GPA information, credits earned, absence totals, and a school logo. Administrators have the option to enable the feature by building and by student. The eReport Card can be previewed within PowerSchool prior to enabling it for all students. It is best practice to turn off the eReport Card at the end of a reporting term while grades are being stored and finalized. Once grade storage is complete, the school can enable the eReport Card and select which term to display for the report card’s teacher course comments. The eReport Card pulls grades from a student’s historical grades screen, so any historical grade changes are immediately reflected on the online report card. With more data available online to parents & guardians, this new feature

By Matt Zenobi, Lead Support Specialist & Systems Analyst, Connect

can help schools cut printing & mailing costs while alleviating some of the hassle that comes with preparing report cards each reporting term! For Connect’s Progressbook districts, electronic report cards are also a possibility which many schools have taken advantage of this past school year.



An Update From . . .


By Sherri Gager, Fiscal Support Specialist, Connect

Effective February 1, 2017, SERS converted from monthly contribution reporting to per pay reporting. eSERS is the Employer Web Portal which is used to upload employer reporting files, view data, and perform additional functions. After a blackout period from February 1 through February 27, 2017, eSERS launched their new Website on February 28, 2017. They released registration emails beginning February 28 through March 10, phasing in groups of employers over a two-week period. Districts were required to register on eSERS within a 24 hour period of receiving registration emails. All districts, prior to February 1, were required to enter their payroll schedule for FY17. eSERS is currently waiving any penalties for late payment submissions and late contribution reporting. We have not been advised as to when penalties will begin to apply again. The conversion to the new eSERS System has been a little overwhelming for both the ITC’s and districts. Anytime new software is released there is a period of disarray for everyone.


SSDT released an update to the districts that included modifications for eSERS. These updates incorporated several issues, such as: • Changing the earnings code on docks • Correcting the tape count on header records • Correcting hours on REG and SUPP wages • Fatal errors kicking out for begin/end dates that were not giving the correct employee id and name • Changing the earnings code for negative payoffs • Pickup amounts were sometimes appearing as an adjustment code • On the RETIRE/SERSREG/SERSDET reports, the report was not created when a void check was found. • We anticipate upcoming changes in the near future to correct any current and unforeseen issues. Connect would like to thank our districts for your support and patience during this transition period. We are continuously trying to make this process easier for all.


TECHNOLOGY SERVICES School districts, by nature, run open environments where administrators, teachers and students share information, so setting rules and restrictions for the sake of IT security may not always be top of mind. Here is a short list of items to help protect the digital assets of the school district. 1. Educate your users. You could have the most up-to-date security in place, but the most common obstacles to breach are unsuspecting staff or students. Review the district’s acceptable use policy. Make sure you educate all network users to remain alert for possible email scams and verify all requests for sensitive information. Develop strategies to create strong passwords and how to protect them. 2. Beware of Social Engineering. All of the technical IT security you implement can’t take the place of common sense and human error. Social engineering tactics have been used successfully to gain login information and access to encrypted files. Attempts may come from phone, email or other communications with your users. 3. Keep all operating systems up to date, and apply regular security patches. When cyber-criminals are constantly inventing new techniques and looking for new vulnerabilities, an optimized security network is only optimized for so long. To keep your network protected, make sure your software and hardware security is up to date with any new anti-malware signatures or patches. 4. Practice defense in depth. This is an IT security concept that involves multiple layers of defense.

By Jeff Rakar, Connect Network Security Engineer

• Starting off with limiting remote admin access to servers and network devices. • Changing default passwords for administrative/ root level access. • Network segmentation, is the process of dividing a network into logical segments, such as subnets or VLANs. Segmentation is accomplished by using Switches, Router, and Firewalls. • Limiting physical access by securing network and wiring closets. • Permit remote administration only over secure communication paths and set time out periods for administration access. 5. Update and Maintain. Updating and maintaining application and network patches is absolutely critical for a secure IT environment. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most overlooked pieces of the IT security puzzle. When you don’t install an update or patch, you are putting the entire network at risk. Centralized control of updates and maintenance is the best way to ensure they are applied in a timely manner and keep exploitable holes from being created in your network. The best practices for network security don’t fixate on forensics and penetration testing, decoding malware or analyzing the origins of a hack. They focus on fundamentals that are too often overlooked. You can have the most elaborate car alarm, but if you leave the door unlocked and the keys in the ignition, it doesn’t do you any good. Mastering security is about keeping small issues from turning into big ones.

Feel free to contact Connect’s technical services for more information on how Connect can help you.





By Joshua Pease, Support Specialist, Connect

Fake News and Digital Literacy Fake news is a prevalent issue in today’s world, but it certainly is not ‘new’ in the world of library science. As librarians, we have long tried to provide our patrons with accurate information from well trusted and properly vetted sources. According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of U.S. adults receives their news in real time from their social media feeds. As we know, these are very often not reputable sources, and with the ability to share news stories with the click of a button, misinformation can be passed on very quickly. The ability to navigate these articles and various sources, and to be able to tell what is credible and what is not is an important skill that is necessary for not just higher education, but for success in the workforce as well. As educators, it is our duty to ensure students have access to and know how to properly navigate information that has been curated by information professionals. One such resource is the INFOhio Digital Literacy tool, which can be found at the following link: eptools/curriculum-toolbox. This resource includes tech skills for online learning, INFOhio’s Digital Literacy resources, and resources to help teach Digital Citizenship.


Another powerful tool from INFOhio is the GO! Ask, Act, Achieve Guide[i], which provides pertinent questions that a reader must always have in mind when evaluating resources. The guide also provides links that help answer each question, such has “How do I decide what information will answer my question?” or “How do I find valid information?” Once we show our patrons the process for properly evaluating sources, they may be less inclined to ‘Like’ that new story that arrived on their Facebook feed, and instead become critical readers and consumers of information. [i] Image courtesy of Digital Literacy!

The Connect Library Liaison group met on March 8 in our Valley View offices. Presentations included INFOhio updates by Jennifer Schwelik, book talks featuring titles from the “I Read Without Walls” program by Mary Schreiber and Kyra Nay (Cuyahoga County Public Library), and “Library TakeOut” presented by Laura Whitehead (North Royalton City Schools) and Shannon Sanek (Cuyahoga Public Library). Laura and Shannon’s presentation highlighted a school/ public library collaboration that makes tech tools available to students and staff at North Royalton. Librarians were able to see and “play” with resources including Makey Makeys, Raspberry pi, Squishy Circuits, Google Cardboards and more!




If you believe you have a question that could help yourself and others, please submit it via email to info@ and include ‘Ask Connect’ in the subject line. We will publish the most common and relevant questions along with an answer from your trusted Connect staff. Please don’t be shy about submitting a question; we will ask your permission before including your name. You provide the content topic and we’ll provide the information. We hope you will contribute!



How can I create a list of my students and their 5th period course in PowerSchool?


Search for the students you need and perform a quick export function. In addition to the student name and any other fields you’d like, include the following data tag: ^(*period_info;5(A);course_name). You may need to edit the expression in the tag to match your own school’s periods and days. If you have sections that meet multiple periods including 5th, include an additional tag to include those students’ courses. For example, use ^(*period_info;17(A);course_name) to include classes that meet 1st through 7th period. Connect can write a custom report to generate this data if you need it on a regular basis.


I generated Q3 report cards in DASL (StudentInformation) and posted the results to the vault for parent access. I used the wrong absence cutoff date (1/20/2017) on the R700 selection criteria screen. How can I re-post these report cards so the Q3 attendance totals are correct?


You can’t edit a saved load setting’s selection criteria - so you’ll have to create a new load setting with the correct selection criteria and absence cutoff date. Be sure that the new load setting you create has the exact same name as the original you processed for Q3. When you process the corrected load setting using the same term and archive date, it will update the existing report cards in the vault without creating a separate copy of the report card.



I have an item that keeps coming up ‘in transit’ to a closed building, how do I fix this and make the item available for my building?


No worries, it’s an easy fix. From Sirsi Workflows, navigate to the ‘Special Circulation’ wizard and select ‘Receive Items in Transit’. Once the Item ID is entered into the Item I.D. field, a pop-up box will prompt for an override. Once the override is entered an additional pop up box will appear, press the ‘close’ button. This will then make the offending item available for modification where it can be updated with the appropriate building code from the Call Number/Item Maintenance wizard.



HEIDI RHODES: If you are a person who relies on their phone for everything and likes to stay organized, I would recommend checking out the Grocery IQ App. Throw away those paper lists and keep track of what you need for that next shopping trip by using this app. This app allows you to keep a list of Favorite items that you frequently buy, scan barcodes of products you already have in stock to add to your future lists, features integrated coupons, and allows you to share your list with someone else. JOSH PEASE: Jack Frost Donuts - The best donuts in town, located on Pearl Rd. in Cleveland, it is worth the drive from wherever you live. I personally recommend the chocolate frosted smiley face donuts, after eating one you won’t stop being able to smile yourself.

Did you know the Cleveland Metroparks are celebrating their centennial this year? What a great occasion to celebrate by taking advantage of this wonderful resource. Check out: https:// for parks, events, and activities in your area. Hope to see you out enjoying nature! TERESA MINERD: Long before our 2016 Presidential election, NETFLIX launched their House of Cards series which has taken its audiences on a hyper speed ride to the nation’s top job. Seen through the eyes of President Frank Underwood, faithful viewers watch his unscrupulous climb to the Oval Office - devouring friendships, career and lives along the way. For those of us eagerly awaiting the Season 5 premier, May 30th can’t get here fast enough! LORI SLINGERLAND: Marotta’s is a small restaurant known for the big taste of their thin crust Pizza and fine Italian food located at 2289 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights http://www.marottas. com. It’s cozy atmosphere, Italian exclusive wine list, and delicious food prepared by an attentive chef make it one of my favorite spots. It gets busy on the weekend and they don’t take reservations, so plan accordingly and be prepared for a lovely meal!



MEETING ROOMS AVAILABLE Are you having a large meeting or retreat for your staff and need a room that can accommodate your group? Are you tired of meeting in a cafeteria or gym? Do you want to meet offsite so staff stay present and don’t disappear back to their office? Do you need an affordable solution?

Worried about contingency planning? If you are a Member district, facilities are available free of charge in the event of a disaster, local network outage, or other business disruption.

We may have a space for you!

To check the availability of a room please contact:

Connect has meeting rooms at both our East and West locations that are available for rent at reasonable rates that will fit your budget. Our facilities are open from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm with rental costs of $100 for a half day or $150 for a full day. At West, we can accommodate up to 32 people. At East, we can accommodate up to 56. See the table below for room details.

East Rooms – Diane Koski at diane.koski@ or 216-520-6900 ext. 5233 West Rooms – Linda Moore at linda.moore@ or 216-520-6900 ext. 5169

*Shared resources available at East facility for use in any East room upon request: • 1 Computer Microphone • 1 Polycom • 1 Whiteboard • 1 TV/VHS/DVD • 20 Laptops


C NNECT Connecting you with Technology

Connect, formerly known as North Coast Council, is leading the way to a new vision for Information Technology Centers serving schools and other educational entities in Ohio. The new governing Board of Directors, the Educational Service Centers of Cuyahoga, Lorain and Medina County and the Ohio Schools Council, have accepted the ownership, responsibility and liability of Connect in order to provide exemplary service to member districts.

As a true regional shared-service operation, Connect will build on the capacity of the four governing entities to expand services and respond quickly to district needs. Connect members will have greater access to a more diverse range of expertise and shared services through the partnership of these owner agencies.

There are many benefits to Connect being led by trusted service agencies such as the Educational Service Centers and Ohio Schools Council. Most importantly, Connect members will experience an increased strength and unwavering service that can reduce costs and make their information technology more effective and efficient, with the ultimate benefit of providing the greatest educational experience possible for students.

Stay Connected...


5700 West Canal Road Valley View, OH 44125

1885 Lake Avenue Elyria, OH 44035






Inform Digital Magazine - Spring 2017  

Inform is the digital magazine of Connect.

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