Wheatley School to get internet speed boost

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The East Williston School District passed their budget with consideration to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of the East Williston School District)

The East Williston school district plans to use money from the state to improve Internet speeds at the Wheatley School, district officials said Monday.

The $304,393 project will install new cables and 97 new wireless Internet access points at the Old Westbury school, David Casamento, the district’s director of science and technology, said at a school board meeting.

The new cables will be more reliable than the school’s 10-year-old cables and allow for a much faster connection at a data transfer speed of 10 gigabits per second, compared with the current speed of one gigabit per second, Casamento said.

The district started installing the cables last year, including in the gym and the science area.

“This money will be spent to complete the cabling throughout the entire Wheatley building,” Casamento said.

The project will be funded by the state with money from the 2014 SMART Schools Bond Act, under which the state borrowed $2 billion for the improvement of school technology, pre-kindergarten programs and school security statewide.

Each district got a portion of the money, and East Williston received $304,393, Casamento said.

“It’s very rare that the state does come forward with money to do programs such as this,” Mark Kamberg, the East Williston school board president, said. “… [The program] is a huge benefit for a district such as us because it does not have to come out of district funds.”

East Williston will get the money after it performs the work.

The cost of the equipment and new cables will be $145,745, labor will cost $149,489 and the 97 wireless access points will cost $9,159, Casamento said.

The district will have to spend its own money over time to install enough wireless access points throughout the school, Casamento said.

“We’re in good shape right now, but we do need a better coverage as we continue to add devices, particularly here at Wheatley,” he said.

Work will ideally start this summer, Casamento said, but that could change because the district has to wait for state approval of its spending plan before it begins the project.

The district’s spending plan has been posted on its website and will be open for public comments for 30 days.

Then, the final plan will be prepared, a public hearing will be held on Jan. 23, and the school board will vote on it.

Once approved, the plan will be submitted to the state Education Department’s Office of Facilities Planning. Then the district will post the approved plan on its website and begin implementing it.

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