It’s been a long time coming but after four years in the queue the Marlboro School District was approved this month to receive $1.2 million from the Smart Schools Bond Act. Mike Bakatsias, Assistant Superintendent for Technology and Personnel, said this amount is Marlboro’s share of this particular state-wide bond.
“We’re at about a 55/45 split, where 55% or that is for Network Infrastructure and upgrades in each building to their UPS [uninterruptible power supply], rotating out all of our switches and also for one cohesive system in the security surveillance cameras. The other 45% is for learning technology; replacement of our existing Smart board fleet, new presentation stations that are linked to the Smart boards and replacement of our entire chrome book fleet. Right now we have chrome books distributed in grades 6 through 12 and eventually those will age out and this money will replace those units.”
Bakatsias pointed out that after about 6 years computer companies stop issuing updates.
“You can’t push out updates anymore, you can’t push out software that they might need; that ability stops,” he said.
Bakatsias said the chrome books that graduating seniors have used this year get recycled and the incoming 6th grade class gets a new one that they carry through.
Bakatsias explained that with this bond approval the district can begin purchasing needed technology items and will be reimbursed on a monthly basis in a fairly short time.
Bakatsias said the Smart Schools Bond Act passed in 2014 and Marlboro applied in the fall of 2015, “and here we are. Knowing that approval was taking quite a long time, and they [state] only review certain times a year, if you don’t make that threshold you have to wait a few months.” He recalled that the district had to keep updating their itemization list of requests because the state requires precise costs. He said while this was an “annoying and painstaking” process it had to be done because the state will compare the district’s prices against state contract prices and if there are any discrepancies, the district will have to review and amend their list.
Bakatsias said if the recently proposed district-wide Capital Project passes, he will make sure that technology purchases and installation are made at the right time during the renovation process.
“So the discussions right now really need to be with the team. We need to bring the architect in and we got some good direction from the school board on how we’re going to approach each building,” he said.
Bakatsias said the district can spend their allotment of $1.2 million over a number of years but they cannot exceed this amount. He said it was wonderful to receive state approval for this money.
“We’ll really take a look at what the next steps are, but certainly classroom technologies we should be able to move on that,” he said. “There are some iPad carts and purchases that we could get into but now its a different kind of effort and it’s the exciting one.”