Mascenic to spend $268k to upgrade internet communications in all three schools

  • Mascenic SAU Building on School Street in Greenville, New Hampshire, photographed on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Staff photo by Brandon Latham — MONADNOCK LEDGER-TRANSCRIPT

  • Mascenic SAU Building on School Street in Greenville, New Hampshire, photographed on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Staff photo by Brandon Latham — MONADNOCK LEDGER-TRANSCRIPT

  • Mascenic SAU Building on School Street in Greenville, New Hampshire, photographed on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Staff photo by Brandon Latham — MONADNOCK LEDGER-TRANSCRIPT

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/13/2017 6:25:20 AM

The next three years will see ongoing improvements made to telecommunications for the Mascenic Regional School District.

The project will replace the current phone system, which district officials consider a safety risk and say is a limit to taking full advantage of its educational tools. They also think it will save money in the long-term because Mascenic will not have to expend man hours doing its own repairs.

“You’ll have access you don’t currently have at the middle and high schools,” Mascenic Director of Technology Matthew Ballou said at a school board meeting on April 3. “It’ll be like home: you plug it in and it’ll work, and it’s all done at the back end.”

After putting out a request for proposals in 2016, officials agreed to work with Comcast. Over the three years, it will cost $268,487.50. That is divided as $91,678.30 in the first year, and $88,404.60 in the next two. Of the total, $159,027.70 is for hardware and software, and $109, 459.80 is for data.

Comcast made the lowest complete proposal. Jive Communication bid $128,434.02, and Education Networks of America bid $237,946.32 for just hardware/software. Fairpoint’s proposal was $308,410.11 total.

“I think it’s a direction we have to go,” School Board Chair Jeff Salmonson said at the same meeting. “I think the safety issue is paramount and a focus for the district, and the bandwidth is a plus.”

The safety issue pertains to telecommunications within schools. Not all classrooms have phone access right now, and the four buildings (three schools and the administrative office) are not internally linked. To highlight this, officials point out that Boynton Middle School only has three lines to communicate outside the school, and often all three are occupied.

“That’s a safety concern, so we want to make it easy for all rooms to be able to call out,” Superintendent Ruthann Goguen said introducing the proposal in March.

Mascenic district students use Chromebooks and other digital technology in the classroom, with which the added bandwidth will help.

“The kids are really using the Chromebooks,” the departing superintendent added at a recent meeting. “They’re using them all the time.”

The district pushed to approve the proposal this month so it could move forward on E-Rate process, according to Ballou.

E-Rate is a benefit program of Universal Service Administrative Co. that helps schools and libraries with telecommunications costs through phone tax funding.

The agreement between Comcast and Mascenic includes a service contract, under which Comcast will be responsible for repairs. This is one of the ways the district hopes the upgrade will save money in the long-term: it will have to spend less on its own, in man hours, to conduct repairs.

Comcast’s response to the request for proposals states an estimated recurring monthly cost of $3,040.55 for data, which comes to $36,486.60 every year.

Work is expected soon, before the 2017-18 school year. Comcast originally reported a quote nearly $15,000 greater, but replaced it with the newer, lower figure after discovering an accounting error on its end, Ballou said.


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