The Union R-XI School District’s board recently approved several technology upgrades for the district.
The district is buying 850 Dell Chromebook laptop computers ahead of schedule because of anticipated microchip shortages, said Matt Jones, district technology coordinator. The purchase was made from CDW Government of Chicago.
“There are devices in stock, and we’ve had several vendors reach out and urge us to think about purchasing our devices for next year ahead of time,” he said. “They are anticipating summer shortages again, three to four months out, which would mean if we do not purchase now, there would be the potential of not having the devices for the start of school.”
The computers cost the district $250 each, plus various upgrades and a tracking service. The district’s total cost is $213,614.
The board also approved a new dedicated internet access contract with EM3 Networks, which Union R-XI will pay $2,495 per month over three years. The district expects to get a 70 percent discount on that price from E-rate, the federal Schools and Libraries Program.
EM3 Networks, of Lawrence, Kansas, had the low bid of five companies that bid on the 2 gigabits per second internet service.
The district also purchased 152 internet access points from CDW for a total of $72,428. Jones said the access points, devices that create wireless networks, are still running an older generation of hardware. “They are due for the refresh to the newer technology,” he said.
Jones also plans to file to get 70 percent of the cost back through the E-rate program.
The district also plans to consider E-rate funds for its managed internal broadband services contract. Currently, the five-year agreement with Provision Data Solutions of Chesterfield calls for the district to pay $53,221 plus an $11,179 annual management cost. “The software helps to manage our wired and wireless network connections,” Jones said. “Think of it as network access control if you will.”
The district receives about $500,000 in E-rate money over a five-year period, Jones said. Though the board approved seeking the funding, the district might not go for all of it to allow it to go for more money in the future.
“It’s just a matter of how we want to utilize those funds,” Jones said. “We are going to do a lot of network refreshing next year.”
Access control upgrades will improve security on 28 doors throughout the district, Jones said.
“The current system is approaching 10 years old,” Jones said. “The provider that installed that system is no longer certified to sell that line, and, in fact, the line doesn’t exist anymore.”
The $65,501 project will come out of remaining school bond money, Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said. The district is not seeking E-rate money on the access control upgrades.