Corbin School Board officials agreed last week to a $109,000 project that would link all the district’s schools together on a high-speed fiber optic network.
The unanimous vote came during the regular monthly meeting of the Corbin Board of Education last Thursday. A bid price of about $65,000 was granted to L & L Communications, of Corbin, to install the new system. The rest of the cost involves ordering the fiber line, steel cable, setting new and augmenting old utility poles to accommodate the lines and $25,000 for five switches that will be installed in each of the district’s schools.
Assistant Superintendent Darrell Tremaine, who is in charge of the project, said the system will allow for more timely repair of computers in the district and allow for quicker maintenance of computer servers.
“The main purpose of this is to have a central location to do repair work and updates to the servers,” he said. “Now, when we have an update, our technician has to drive to one school and update those servers, then drive to another school … plus he has to wait while this updating is going on. When we get the fiber installed, all the servers will be at the high school in one place.”
Tremaine said server maintenance and, especially, repair of computers in classrooms has been a major problem.
“We may have work orders two and three weeks old, now,” he said. “We would like to be on a 24-hour turnaround time. If a teacher turns in a problem tomorrow, we’ve got it fixed the next day. We can’t ask our teachers to use technology if they aren’t sure it will work.”
School officials visited the Barren County school district in October and say that district’s fiber optic system was the impetus to upgrade. Tremaine said schools in that district were wired together with a fiber optic network and that students could take classes focused on just fixing problems with computers on that network. Many times, computers could be fixed remotely, without student-technicians ever having to leave their own building. A similar program will be started at the Corbin schools.
Officials researched the feasibility of leasing a fiber-optic network, but backed off the idea when it proved to be cost prohibitive (about $7,000 a month) and didn’t offer as much bandwidth. Tremaine said the district will have six-strand fiber-optic wire as opposed to two-strand, allowing room for expansion and enabling full-motion video transfers between computers on the network.
Fiber optic cable was ordered Monday and Tremaine said steel cable, which the fiber will be wrapped around, should be in Friday. Weather permitting, the project will start next Monday and is expected to be complete by mid-January.
State funding for technology in public schools has decreased every year for the last five years. What remains is focused, primarily, on new equipment and not upkeep and repair.
“I think this is the number one priority if we are going to keep technology going where we think it ought to go,” Tremaine said.
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