Port Washington schools apply for alternative funding for network update

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A file photo of the Port Washington Board of Education. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

The total cost for the Port Washington school district to update its computer networks is projected to be $855,000.

Ryan Meloni, the district’s director of technology, discussed two programs to help fund the project at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

The district has applied for a federal E-rate program that would cover 40 percent of the cost. For the remaining 60 percent, the district will submit an application for a SmartBond from the state.

The E-Rate program provides aid to schools and libraries to help them attain affordable broadband internet service.

SmartBonds are made available to schools through the state’s Smart Schools Bond Act. They are general obligation bonds issued by the state “to finance improved educational technology and infrastructure to improve learning and opportunity for students.”

If approved, E-rate will cover $342,200 of the bill and the remaining $513,300 will be financed through a SmartBond. The projected annual cost for the school district would be $112,678.92 for the next five years.

Over the last five years, the district has been working to modernize its network infrastructure. At the time the project began, the district’s network was nine to 12 years old and was only able to support 1,200 desktop computers.

The network now supports 2,500 Chromebooks, 885 iPads, 1,800 desktop computers, hundreds of wireless access points, the district phones, hundreds of network printers and security cameras, gas and heat pumps, temperature controls, and a “bring your own device” model that supports approximately 3,500 additional devices a day.

In the¬†proposal made available on the district’s website, Meloni said that when planning for the next five years it is important that the “momentum created is not lost or that the district does not lose ground as the district competes to provide our students and community with the best opportunities.”

Areas of the network that the technology department have identified as needing an update are the Wide Area Network, the backbone of the district’s network infrastructure; the Local Area Network, the network infrastructure that supports the data communication of all devices and systems within a building; stepping up network¬†security; replacing components in the district’s wired networking; replacing the Wi-Fi access point at the elementary schools; and replacing the battery backups in each network technology wiring closet.

The proposal also included the completion of network technology for Weber Middle School’s creative arts extension, and security vestibules at Guggenheim, Manorhaven, Sousa and South Salem elementary schools and Schreiber High School.

Members of the board commended Meloni for his resourcefulness in finding alternative funding.

Discussion of the preliminary budget is planned for the next meeting of the Board of Education on Feb. 26.

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