School district to update WiFi equipment

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. plans to invest money to improve its Wi-Fi equipment across the district.

The planned upgrades are being made possible by the E-rate program through the federal government, which reduces the cost for schools that invest in technology equipment, said Jim Roberts, BCSC superintendent.

The district on Monday approved a $164,078 bid from Technology Integration Group for equipment improvements, with BCSC picking up 40 percent, or $65,631, of the cost. The district also is eligible for a 60 percent reimbursement because it is classified as an urban district and because of its free/reduced lunch percentage, which stood at 44.2 percent as of November.

The technology enhancements at 17 school district buildings will allow the district to upgrade radios that send out Wi-Fi signals so they are capable of sending and receiving signals, said Mike Jamerson, director of technology. Richard Johnson Elementary School is the lone district building not eligible for the E-rate program because it is a preschool, he said.

Roberts said the district wants to be as prepared as it can for new technology, noting that some of its current equipment is not compatible with new Wi-Fi technology.

“As technology gets better, faster and more robust, we believe the equipment could be improved,” Roberts said. “We are upgrading where the need is.”

The upgrades will also better serve students involved in the district’s 1:1 initiative in which students use a district-issued laptop as part of their education, Jamerson said. The improvements will allow for more internet traffic with higher data speeds, he said.

The district also was able to upgrade switches and purchase universal supply equipment through the E-rate program in 2016, according to Jamerson.

Jamerson said while there are no issues with its current bandwidth, the district will occasionally find places where students are using their laptops where there are no internet signals.

Jamerson said it could take up to six months for the district to hear back once it submits its application to the federal government, but he hopes BCSC will be able to implement the upgrades before the next school year begins.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com