Purdy schools seeking tech upgrade

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

E-rate to help upgrade routers, switches, wireless service

Plans for a major upgrade to the technology backbone of the Purdy school district have started, targeting improvements by summer.

Superintendent Steven Chancellor reported the district needs an upgrade to its wireless system, as well as for all the switchers and routers.

Chancellor said he applied to the federal E-rate program, which offers significant reimbursement. E-rate handles advertising and shares the project with potential vendors over 28 days. Chancellor said eight vendors have contacted him offering services. After that time, the district can rank those interested and sign a contract.

Because of the Purdy school district's high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced meals, E-rate, which is designed to help rural schools and libraries with their communication expenses, offers reimbursement based on its own formula, which tends to pay at an even higher rate.

Purdy receives technology support from k12itc, a Kansas City-based educational consultant. By applying for managed services, Chancellor said the district may be charged $800 more a month, but after the E-rate reimbursement is calculated, end up paying less than the current charge.

"This would be like paying on a utility," Chancellor said. "They will put in new equipment that they can refresh every two to three years. We get better speeds, faster service and lower costs."

Under the timetable triggered by Chancellor's application, the district could award a contract by early April. A vendor, such as k12itc, would conduct a survey of the district's needs and install new equipment by May.

"School districts cannot afford to stay current on technology," Chancellor said. "If you don't have that infrastructure in place, you can't be successful."

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