Schools to improve computer network

Published 1:03 am Friday, February 22, 2019

Andalusia City Schools plans to tap into E-rate funds to improve the electronic network in each of its schools.

Gary Odom, who manages information technology for the city system, said the schools have funds available that they will lose if they aren’t used this year.

The Federal Communication Commission’s E-rate program makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries. With funding from the Universal Service Fund, E-rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

Odom said in 2015, 70 percent of school districts in the state had no internet access in classrooms. Monies pooled at the federal level were made available based on population, and calculated at $150 per student.

At that time, Andalusia City Schools had already put wireless networking in its schools. But as the system has added more technology, that network has become crowded and gotten slower.

“For instance, here in the elementary school, from data closet to data closet, we have 1G of bandwidth,” Odom said. “With this plan, that goes to 10G of bandwidth.”

The equipment that is moved from the schools will be repurposed for use at the Woodson Learning Center, which houses the system’s central offices, as well as an after-school program.

The system has 1,840 students, Odom said, and maintains 1,466 electronic devices.

“We are getting closer to one-to-one technology,” he said.

The  upgrade is estimated at $205,000, and Odom said the E-rate funds will cover approximately $140,000 of the costs.

In unrelated business, the board also:

• Accepted the resignation of Harrison Mims, who teaches government and economics at Andalusia High School.

• Spent approximately 2 hours in a closed session called to discuss “real estate.”