Questa School District’s in­ter­net connection quag­mire

The Taos News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jesse Moya jmoya@taos­ The Taos News

For sev­eral weeks, of­fi­cials at Questa In­de­pen­dent Schools say the district has largely been with­out in­ter­net caus­ing se­ri­ous in­ter­rup­tions in the day-to-day process of start­ing the school year.

The district has been work­ing with in­ter­net provider Kit Car­son In­ter­net as well as Plan B to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion; how­ever, no party has been able to con­firm why the district is with­out a sta­ble in­ter­net connection. Of­fi­cials from Kit Car­son say the is­sue is not on their end while the district is say­ing there may be some over­looked pre­vi­ous me­chan­i­cal is­sues.

“Our in­ter­net prob­lem, we’re go­ing on our fifth week,” said Felipe Blea, Tues­day (Aug. 21) at a school board meet­ing. “We have it one day, we lose it. This is get­ting to be a con­stant headache be­cause I am not able to see what’s over here or over there.”

Blea is the head of four district schools in­clud­ing Questa High School, Alta Vista El­e­men­tary and In­ter­me­di­ate Schools and Rio Cos­tilla South­west Learn­ing Acad­emy. He said the in­ter­net is­sues have gone on too long.

Since July, the district said they have had is­sues with their in­ter­net, which con­nects all the schools near the ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing. With­out in­ter­net, the school board has been un­able to ac­cess email on-site, caus­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors like su­per­in­ten­dent LeAnne Salazar to have to leave in search of a sta­ble in­ter­net connection.

Ac­cord­ing to Salazar, the in­ter­net out­age caused a de­lay in the regis­tra­tion of stu­dents, but the district over­came the is­sue and has been work­ing around the connection prob­lems. Board mem­bers are of­ten un­able to ac­cess their emails and other doc­u­ments via in­ter­net at the meet­ings.

“Five weeks is wait­ing four and a half weeks too long,” board pres­i­dent Daryl Ortega said dur­ing the meet­ing.

Kit Car­son crews have trav­eled to Questa a num­ber of times to fix the connection is­sues that started in July due to sev­eral unique cir­cum­stances.

“Ser­vice in Questa has been up and has been sta­ble,” said Kit Car­son Divi­sion Man­ager An­drew Gonzales. “We’ve proven that to the school. It has to be some­thing on their in­ter­nal net­work.”

While crews work to lo­cate the ex­act is­sue, of­fi­cials from Kit Car­son did ac­knowl­edge two events in the Questa area that cause in­ter­net out­ages to sev­eral cus­tomers.

Crews were called due to an out­age July 26 that was caused by a gun­shot to the fiber op­tic line. Ac­cord­ing to Gonzales, this is­sue was re­solved within 12 hours.

High winds in the Questa area July 29 blew lines around and at some point, the fiber op­tic line con­nected with an elec­tri­cal line that dam­aged in­ter­net connection. Kit Car­son re­placed 1,500 feet of line within 15 hours.

Ac­cord­ing to Gonzales, con­nec­tions have been es­tab­lished from Kit Car­son, and the in­ter­net is flow­ing from the provider to the district. IT tech­ni­cians from Plan B Net­works are also on scene try­ing to see what the connection is­sues are.

“If I can’t fix it, no­body else can,” said Luis Pri­eto, Plan B vice pres­i­dent of oper­a­tions.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Ortega said he didn’t see a rea­son to ter­mi­nate the district’s con­tract with Kit Car­son and will await re­sults from the crews.

De­spite the is­sues with the tech­nol­ogy, Salazar said the school year is go­ing on as planned. Tem­po­rary con­nec­tions have been es­tab­lished at the schools to as­sist stu­dents and staff, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion in­ter­net ser­vice is spo­radic.

“I can see that it’s go­ing to be a very pos­i­tive school year,” Salazar said dur­ing the meet­ing.

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