The East Allen County Schools board Tuesday unanimously approved technology infrastructure hardware upgrades that will improve Internet access inside and outside the district facilities.
Total cost for the upgrades is nearly $400,000, but the district expects significant financial help from the e-rate program through the USAC Reimbursement Fund, a federal government program. The government financing is partially linked to the district’s free and reduced-priced lunch rate, which runs at nearly 50 percent, said Kirby Stahly, the district’s assistant superintendent of administrative services.
The infrastructure upgrades include two Nexus 9K routers and 100 access points, an upgrade that will increase coverage areas in buildings that currently do not have wireless coverage. The funding will also pay for a Cisco 5520 wireless controller, Cisco Outdoor Wireless that will be helpful for classes like biology, physics and physical education which sometimes meet outside the buildings, and for Cisco Prime.
After an expected 80 percent funding of the total cost of these upgrades, the district’s cost will be about $80,000, said Keith Madsen, EACS’ director of technology.
Stahly and Madsen also presented a plan to continue the one-on-one student-to-electronic device ratio. The initiative that began in 2012 calls for the purchase of 5,393 iPads for grades 7-12 and staff. Other items to be purchased include charging carts and cases for grades K-12. Cost would be almost $2.6 million, less than the initial cost in 2012 of almost $3.6 million.
The iPads currently used by students in grades 7-12 will be then passed down to be used in grades K-6, Madsen said.
Money to pay for the electronic devices would come from a capital lease for the student devices and accessories that would be rented annually to students at an estimated cost of about $119 per student and from the capital projects fund for staff devices and K-6 accessories, Stahly said.
The proposal is expected to be voted on at the next board meeting April 12.