The Levittown school board passed a resolution Friday that will significantly improve technology for teachers and students in classrooms.
The resolution, which was a Co-Ser Agreement with Nassau BOCES, enables the district's information technology department to replace obsolete network equipment. It will also enable the district to implement a wireless internet network as well as install smart boards in every classroom in the district.
The board initially passed a modified resolution for its technology overhaul Wednesday. However, they decided to call the special meeting and rescind the vote Friday after they learned that the modified schedule would change the vendor's parameters. They then approved the original motion by a 6-0 vote. (Board member Ed Powers was not present at Friday's meeting.)
According to Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Mark Flower and Director of Computer and Media Services Ron Kister, the project will be paid for in monthly installments over a 60-month period, starting in March of 2012. Approximately $200,000 will be spent on the project during the last four months of the 2011-12 school year. The project will cost approximately $540,000 per year over the following four school years, with the remaining costs paid out over eight months of the 2016-17 school year. The final payment numbers could fluctuate depending on the amount of interest the district is charged.
The plans behind the wireless network and the network overhaul were described in depth by Kister at a Nov. 30 planning session. Kister told the board that the new wireless network would be a Wide Area Network (WAN), which would allow students and teachers to connect to the network using tablets and mobile devices.
"Students already have these devices, and they’re connecting using their 3G services," said Kister. "The ones that are available now have apps that you can run on your tablet devices or your own personal owned devices that allow the teachers to interact, take attendance easier [and] enter in grades while roaming."
Grossane noted Friday that the board would have to revisit the district's code of conduct to take advantage of these devices, as the district currently bans cell phone use.
The WAN will also help the district cut down on other hardware costs. "If we were to put in a lab of 30 computers, we’d probably have to spend $10,000 on just the data drops alone," said Kister. "There’d be an electrical cost on top of that. [By] bringing 30 mobile devices into our buildings, that cost wouldn’t be there."
The network refresh involves changing the network switches from outdated Cisco switches to new HP switches, which Kister said are ten times faster. Kister's department will be utilizing the once existing data drop in each classroom, using a 3Com POE (Power-Over-Ethernet) to power the wireless access points while providing additional managed ports.
Smart boards, which were not discussed at the Nov. 30 meeting, are interactive white boards. An image is projected on a white board from a computer. Students and teachers can then manipulate the image on screen with a pen. (To see an example of a smart board, view this Youtube link.) Kister said Friday that the smart boards will be installed by the middle of August at the latest.