The school board called a special meeting for Monday, July 2 strictly for informational purposes only after multiple board members were concerned about the wireless internet set to be installed in the new BenGil Elementary School building.
Superintendent Skeans along with Assistant Superintended Tieman and Technology Coordinator Mark Carpani were present to speak with the 6 board members in attendance. Board members were wondering if anything was going to be lost after a decision was made to change the internet usage from 8 drops per classroom to 4 drops.
Carpani opened and said that school will not depend 100% on wireless technology, at this point anyway. “Kids are going to be using laptops or tablets. They won’t walk into the classroom and have plug something in, it will all be wireless,” Carpani explained.
At this point, Carpani can go back in and add wireless access points later. The capability to expand the network is there if the internet is lagging. To add a wireless access point later is about $150 per access point. “That is part of the reason we decided to go with wireless technology, so we could enhance capability down the road and not have to go back in and redo the system,” Skeans added.
“We can’t walk away from the hardwire at this point. We depend on them now and will continue to do so until technology improves,” Carpani explained. Skeans went on to add that there will be a walkway above the ceiling so you can actually walk on top of the ceiling and fix any wiring issues, heating/air conditioning issues, or anything.
The Promethean Smart Boards, which will be in every classroom in the new school, are ran off a wireless laptop. Weye Schmidt questioned whether the boards would use too much bandwidth. “No, they won’t. We can designate how much bandwidth each VLAN uses and with a gigabyte backbone and fiber optic wiring to each building, we are set,” Carpani went on to say.
“I am a little concerned on the standpoint of what I have experienced at work because we run 9 drops to each office. I am not familiar with the infrastructure side, but more of the software side,” Schmidt added. “If we had 700 students accessing the network and 30 smart boards using the internet, that is a lot of bandwidth.”
Carpani said it gets congested at times, but that is why a gigabyte backbone is in place. Some places take more of it than others, but wireless will end up taking over.
Initially in the planning stages, the school was planned to have 8 drops per classroom. “That was a wish, that’s what we wanted,” Tieman added. The cost savings is around $16,000, according to Skeans. Some of the savings went toward wireless, so “we can grow as technology grows.”
Right now, the high school only has 1 drop per classroom with no wireless technology. The elementary school in Benld had 1 or 2 drops per classroom, Skeans recalled. The new BenGil Elementary will have 4 drops per classroom. “This will be cutting edge,” Skeans added.
According to Carpani, the school only has so much bandwidth they can use. It goes back on the internet provider. “We are at the maximum right now at 11meg, we are waiting so we can upgrade to 22meg,” Carpani explained.
Dave Griffel was concerned on two separate issues. “I always run dummy wires through when I build something, so it is always there if I need it,” Griffel expressed. “The other issue is on the school board side. Right now, we have funding to build the building. Looking forward, we need to make sure we are doing it right now and not having to do it later. I remember when we had the air conditioners sitting on top of the high school for 12 years before we could afford to wire them.”
“This isn’t a matter of cutting corners,” Carpani stopped Griffel. “That is not why we are doing this. I do future planning and am always looking forward to see what we are doing 10 years from now. I wouldn’t be able to walk through the halls and have 8 data drops sitting there with 2 things plugged in, that would rub me the wrong way. That would be wasting labor and wasting materials,” Carpani continued.
If one room was really technology driven and a drop needed to be added later, Carpani and his team could do that later in house. “I don’t see it being an issue, but I could get it done in house easily.”
There will be hard wire data drops in all the offices and classrooms. The school will have a mix of hard wire and wireless. Workstations will use hardwire and all the computer labs will use hardwire while the 6 mobile labs will be wireless. The mobile labs will have 30 computers in each one.
The new building will be solidly reliable with hardwire technology and have the wireless to add to it. “It is an enhancement,” Skeans closed. “We aren’t just jumping into this. We visited other schools, we had internet people do presentations, and we did our research,” Carpani added.