DeSoto schools look to expand online capacity
Feb 13, 2013 (The Commercial Appeal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
DeSoto County Schools is looking to expand Internet capacity, partly to accommodate broader use of personal technology devices by students on the district's 40-plus campuses.
The subject arose during a discussion at a specially called school board meeting Wednesday to seek approval for soliciting proposals on Internet services. Board members unanimously OK'd the request.
Lendon Balch, the district's director of technology, said the bidding is needed to meet requirements for the federal E-Rate program, which will reimburse the district for 66 percent of the cost. Board attorney Keith Treadway said the savings could translate into about $360,000.
"We thought our existing contract with Comcast would roll over," Treadway said, "but that isn't sufficient for E-Rate rules. The program requires that we request proposals."
Balch then explained to board members what the project they were being asked to green light would include. He said it actually consisted of two parts -- expanding the Wide Area Network, or WAN, for communications within the district, and expanding the capacity for Internet services on the World Wide Web.
"The Wide Area Network has been handled by Comcast for quite awhile," Balch said, "but a number of other companies are eager for the business."
Balch said ATT had handled Internet services through the State Department of Education, but that service will be submitted for bids as well because of a need for greater capacity.
"With our BYOD program, or Bring Your Own Device, the network will be flooded and need capacity that we don't now have as students bring more smartphones and tablets," he said.
The DeSoto district is Mississippi's largest public school district with more than 30,000 students.
In addition to providing needed capacity for students, Balch said the improvements will ease congestion for employees who now sometimes find it difficult to send e-mail.
Proposals are expected to be brought back to board members for consideration in about 30 days.
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