postheadericon School Board Approves Technology Contracts

school_aerial3The Lansing Board Of Education approved three warrants Monday totaling $615,000 for technology purchases.  Director of IT Michael Lockwood was on hand to talk about the state of technology on the district campus and proposals for maintaining and upgrading the system.  About half the money will roll over from an expired technology contract, and by purchasing equipment through BOCES contracts the district stands to save money and receive more aid.

"This district has seen enormous growth in technology in the last several years," Lockwood said.  "If you look at the number of tablet devices, the number of wireless connections in the building, even the amount of bandwidth we have in the district for our Internet, it has grown tremendously in the last two or three years.  Part of that comes from assistance from groups like the CDC (Corporate Development Committee).  We've had opportunities through BOCES to bring in technology."

Lockwood and a technician, both BOCES employees, work on the Lansing campus five days a week.  The district realizes savings by outsourcing the positions from BOCES, and they have access to resources through BOCES that the district wouldn't otherwise have.   In the past year the number of iPads alone has doubled, with more requested for next year.  

"Technology in this district is supported in a way that I haven't really seen in other districts," Lockwood said.  "The use of it is tremendous."

A nine year old point of sale computer used by food services is being replaced, in addition to wireless access points.  That will bring wireless access points to every classroom so that devices like Chromebooks and iPads will be capable of connecting to the school network and Internet in every classroom.

Lockwood reported that about 2,100 unique devices connect to the school's wireless network per month.  Lockwood says about 800 of those devices are owned by the district with the rest representing 'guest devices' such as private phones and tablets.

A $250,000 contract with BOCES will provide infrastructure upgrades so that campus buildings can connect to each other more effectively, and speeds associated with fiber optics can be realized.  That will mean replacing network switches and other equipment.

tech_prometheanSmart boards replace blackboards in the classroom with internet-connected interactive screens

Another $300,000 that has been budgeted for an expiring contract will be rolled into a new one for an annual instructional lease.  The money goes toward the purchase of instructional technology, much of which is Promethean smart boards.  To date about 90% of the district classrooms have smart boards.  Lockwood says that while new boards are needed for a few classrooms, it is time to begin a 5-year replacement rotation schedule to make sure the classrooms continue to be equipped.  Of 18 new smart boards purchased for the district this year, 13 are replacements.

"They're not just sitting in the rooms," Lockwood said.  "Today we changed two bulbs.  These things are used every day.  It's a wonderful tool that we have in the classroom."

The rest of the money will be used for new computers and iPads to supplement equipment that CDC donates to the district.  Since fiber optic connections between the buildings are not aidable, Lockwood met with the CDC recently with a proposal for them to consider funding that will upgrade to multiple connections that are ten times the current speed with much greater bandwidth.

CDC's next fundraiser, 'Back to the North 40 Dance Party', is scheduled for Apr 05, 2014 at the North 40 in Lansing.  As always the dance will include traditional and silent auctions with the procedes going to purchase technology for the Lansing school district.  The organization has raised over $400,000 over the past 15 years.

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