As part of an effort to equip all of its buildings with wireless Internet service, the School District of Rhinelander's Operations and Strategic Planning Committee on Monday approved a plan to install wireless equipment at Pelican Elementary School.
The committee recommended the full board approve the proposal from Direct Technology Group (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) for the purchase of 13 Cisco 2600 series, controller based, internal antenna wireless access points at a cost of $7,709 and a proposal from Heartland Business Systems (Little Chute) for the purchase of the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers Additive Capacity License for 25 access points at a cost of $8,300.
"We're adding equipment. There's no managed wireless coverage (at Pelican) right now," said Greg Krueger, network administrator. "(Northwoods Community Elementary School (NCES)), Crescent (Elementary School), and Pelican, none of them have wireless coverage beyond maybe a consumer-grade wireless router which doesn't really have the throughput for what it's used for, so this will be a big improvement. This will essentially bring coverage to the entire building at a level that will be needed for use in all classrooms."
If the acquisitions are approved by the board, that would leave only NCES and Crescent without wireless capabilities. Krueger said he has a plan in place to get them covered.
"The high school is switching over to Cisco Infrastructure and it's about halfway complete at this point," Krueger said. "By the end of this coming summer, the transition at the high school will be completed, freeing up our old system to be transferred over to Crescent and NCES to fill the voids there."
As for the bill, the district is hoping to use some Microsoft vouchers it has in its back pocket.
"We are hoping to use Microsoft vouchers to pay for it," Business Director Marta Kwiatkowski said. "We have Microsoft vouchers that came in a long time ago. There are tons of restrictions on what you can use them for, but this fits with what you can use them for so we're hoping to use the vouchers."
Krueger said he has been in contact with Microsoft and every indication is the district will be able to use the vouchers.
"We did email Microsoft and we gave them the product numbers we're ordering and we got back in writing that they are eligible," Krueger said.
While that would seem like fantastic news, Kwiatkowski said excitement should be tempered, as they have gone through this process before and eventually been denied.
Should that happen, Kwiatkowski said there is money in the technology budget to cover the purchase.
"Even though they're eligible, there is a chance, and it's been done in the past, that they'll deny it and there is not (an) appeal process," Kwiatkowski said. "So, there is a slight chance that it could come out of the technology budget, but there's a very good chance we will pay with the vouchers."
The issue still has to be taken before the full board for final approval.
In other business, the Operations and Strategic Planning Committee recommended the district open a line of credit not to exceed $1.5 million for cash-flow purposes should they arise.
According to Kwiatkowski, the line of credit is needed in case of an emergency while the district waits for its state aid payments and the money it gets from property taxes.
The district gets some of its state aid in September and December, but those funds are used up to meet payroll, with money from the district's fund balance being used to cover the rest, Kwiatkowski said.
"As of Nov. 30, we are heavily using our fund balance," Kwiatkowski said. "That's why it's so important to have a sufficient fund balance to carry us through to January and avoid short-term borrowing. Nothing extraordinary. We're on track."
Kwiatkowski said it looks like the district won't need to use the line of credit, however it's still a good idea to have the option there in case of an emergency.
"This is a line of credit so it's not your regular structured borrowing," Kwiatkowski said. "We do it every year in case there is an emergency and we really need the money. There are no plans to draw that money unless something major would happen in January and we would need it to make the January payroll. Some bills, like insurance bills, are substational - they can be as high as $600,000 a month and these health insurance bills are usually due within 15 days."
The committee unanimously approved the request which will now be brought before the full board.
Marcus Nesemann may be reached at email@example.com.
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