May 15, 2021

NCSD continues to update district technology

School board approves network equipment purchases

More than $275,000 worth of network equipment for Newton’s elementary schools and high school were approved Monday, April 12 by the board of education, much of which will be requested for reimbursement and could ultimately cost the district less money overall.

Heartland Business Systems, the winning bidder, provided Newton Community School District two estimates for the projects: $228,651.26 for the high school and $46,920.42 for the elementary schools. Both would be paid for using SAVE (Secure and Advance Vision for Education) funds.

The district said 80 percent of costs from both projects could be reimbursed with “federal E-rate funding,” turning the expenses to Heartland Business Systems into net costs of $45,730.25 for the high school equipment and $9,384.08 for the elementary schools.

Newton Technology Supervisor Shane Wheeler said the wireless access points and core switches in the district network needed to be updated to better support students and staff at the high school. The elementary schools also needed updated wireless points and an uninterruptible power source.

Another set of bids were received from Riverside Technology: $220,254.82 for the high school and $38,593.23 for the elementary schools. Although lower estimates than winning bidder, the technology department said Riverside’s UPS units were “not adequate.”

To further improve the district’s network infrastructure, the school board also approved a $94,330 cabling project at the high school. Van Maanen Technology, Inc. submitted the low, winning bid. Like the previous projects, the cabling is paid with SAVE funds and a portion is requested to be reimbursed.

Wheeler told Newton News the high school’s network is his department’s top priority this year. The following purchases from last week’s school board meeting reflect that. With more classrooms relying on technology and internet access, the better the school district’s IT infrastructure needs to be.

From what Wheeler has noticed, online components are needed more often in today’s curriculum. Email and online repositories like Google Drive are a must in order to operate the schools. Websites today also require “so much more data now” to browse. Having a good internet connection at school is crucial.

“Our school informations system is online … so (students) are checking in with their class assignments, they’re posting, they’re uploading assignments, they’re downloading assignments,” Wheeler said.

Students in Newton are provided devices like Chromebooks and laptops to complete their school work. With more devices being used, the more important it is to have updated or additional wireless access points to handle the traffic.

“Every room that has instruction in it will have its own dedicated access point, so it can carry the load of having everybody in there with their devices,” Wheeler said. “Plus, all the strenuous devices that we may have in there, because you’re going to have other things that need wireless.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.