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Updates to technology infrastructure planned at the Hancock school this summer

When it comes to technology, a school or even a business, cannot afford to have a 'do nothing' year. That is one of the reasons the Hancock School Board established a Technology Committee to assess and recommend new technology each year. It is also the reason this same committee recommended some major technology infrastructure work at the school this summer.

The technology committee, which includes Amy Dougherty, John Witte, Jeff Steiner, Tim Schaefer, Steve Wagner, Tim Pahl, Susan Stevenson and Jerry Martinson, recently met to make a plan that was presented to the school board last week. This plan included three lists - Can't do without list, Wants list and Infrastructure needs list.

The first list is basically the annual costs to the district in the area of technology. The annual list of needs consists of $34,599 with the majority of this for the technology director salary. It also included antivirus costs, bulbs for smart boards, ink and other basic needs.

The wants list was relatively short and inexpensive compared to previous years. This was because the school would not be needing a computer lab replacement this year. The labs are totally switched out every four years so this is one of the off years.

The committee discussed each item and expressed interest and need for these items. The media center is due for three new computers. The new first grade teacher will need a teacher laptop and SmartBoard computer as well as up to three student machines. Dougherty felt she could rotate computers and transfer the existing pre-school laptop to the new first grade teacher.

A SmartBoard is needed in the new math room as the existing math SmartBoard will remain in that classroom for the sixth grade. A SmartBoard will also be needed in the classroom that will be shared next year by Dougherty and Brandon Welle.

The committee recommended five iPods for the first grade. These students used iPods in kindergarten and the committee felt it would be good to continue to provide these as the class advances through the grades. The list of anticipated wants for the district equals $14,242.52. The board tabled approval of many of these items so funding can be reviewed more clearly.

The final, and biggest item, recommended by the committee was a major infrastructure remodel. This would include new switches, Dell rack, fiber, AC unit, Sonic Wall, software costs, and labor/maintenance costs to install. Several items on the list are in need of implementing. Without implementing all items in the infrastructure at this time, it would lead to increased costs at a later time. All of the items recommended would lead directly into the future and into a new building. The total cost of the infrastructure is $51,578.74. The majority of this cost was the labor or installation. Dougherty explained that the district already has a contract with John Witte for labor and those funds could be used as part of the labor costs.

"This is a big step forward into the future of our technology," Dougherty told the board. "We have been moving toward this every year."

The board approved the infrastructure work to be done this summer and thanked the technology committee. Martinson told the board that the district is fortunate to have a real solid and loyal technology committee as they have been invaluable in their knowledge and input for the district. "These recommendations are well-thought out" stated Martinson.