Waukesha School District to Get $2.9M Technology Upgrade
Estimated cost to be spread over three years.
The Waukesha School Board approved spending up to $2.9 million for school district technology upgrades Wednesday night.
The board approved financing through Cisco, a state-approved vendor, to lease new infrasctructure required to make the upgrades. The approval is contingent upon completion of the preliminary school district budget.
Six of the nine school board members voted in favor of the financing. Three school board members - Steve Edlund, Ellen Langill and Karin Rajnicek - were absent for the meeting.
The upgrades are necessary because of an increased demand on the district’s aging technology infrastructure, according to the district.
“Basically, what we have right now is state-of-the-art 10 years ago. And now we’re moving forward,” School Board Member Patrick McCaffery said.
According to district documents, the upgrades are necessary because of:
- Increasing use of wireless technology;
- Wired infrastructure that needs replacement or repair;
- A need for more efficient handling of data and data equipment;
- For more consistent experiences for all technology users when connecting to or through the district’s network; and
- For more internet bandwidth as district data consumption has dramatically grown over the past years.
Superintendent Todd Gray said he thought the biggest benefit of the upgrades is reliability, which has a “direct educational impact" on the students.
“We’re expecting our teachers more and more to use technology in their teaching … and if that technology is not working when the students are in class, they lose a big portion of the day. It’s not like a textbook that you simply open. The technology has to work every day. If the infrastructure isn’t there to support it, you lose some instruction,” Gray said.
One of the main reasons the district is going forward with the large project now is a financing incentive from Cisco for committing in July 2012. Cisco offered a zero percent financing for three years if the district approves the project this month.
“Normally, the district would look at these projects over a two to three year time frame due to the high cost. This financing option allows us to take advantage of the financing incentives available now, receive larger volume discounts, get the use of the updated equipment and to receive energy savings,” Finance Committee Chair Joseph Como said.
Overall, the district expects $300,000 to $400,000 in savings by moving ahead now with the project, Como said.
The cost of the project will be spread over three years and will come from the technology fund, costing about $1 million each year, according to Como, using money the district planned to spend on technology in the upcoming three years.
According to district documents, the project will include the following upgrades with estimated costs:
- Wireless upgrades for the district of an estimated $228,000. Some buildings in the district have already received wireless upgrades. This upgrade will include the rest.
- A district-wide WAN Core for $453,000. The WAN Core is networking equipment that connects all of the buildings in the district.
- Building network infrastructure for $1.023 million.
- Data center virtualization for $448,000 and desktop virtualization for $222,500. Virtualization is software that allows one computer to function as multiple computers. The virtualization planned will allow the district to decrease the amount of servers in the district from over 70 servers to about 50, saving the district energy and operating costs.
- Firewall and UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) protection for $212,500.
- A second data center for other network needs and back-ups for $355,000.
- The upgrade costs include estimated equipment and service and maintenance costs.
Installation of the upgrades will be by a third party vendor, which will be selected through a bid process, Como said.