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School board approves tech purchases – Newton Daily News


Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) funds will be used to purchase two sets of technology equipment for the Newton Community School District. On Monday, Jan. 11, the NCSD Board of Education approved both purchases: a $209,500 bid for Chromebooks and a $73,850 bid for servers.

NCSD Technology Supervisor Shane Wheeler said the district heard back from three vendors before settling on the $209,500 bid from BlueAlly Technology Solutions for 580 Chromebooks. Wheeler said acquiring Chromebooks is “really hard to do” right now, prompting an early purchase.

“Some school districts are still looking for their Chromebooks they ordered for this (past) summer,” Wheeler said, noting the computers Newton received are similar to those purchased last year. “…We’re trying to get this out early so that we can get in the pipelines, then make sure that we have our bids.”

As a result, the approved purchase will come out of next year’s budget for fiscal year 2022, NCSD Director of Business Services Tim Bloom said. The Chromebooks will be listed on the district’s capital improvement plan, which is going to be revealed to school board members in March.

Wheeler said the 580 Chromebooks will replace some of the older models in the district. For instance, when students transition from fourth to fifth grade (elementary to middle school), the district typically replaces their Chromebooks and salvage the outgoing models for parts.

In addition to the computers, the school board approved the purchase of six video recording servers and one management server from Walsh Door & Security for $73,850. Only one bid was received. Wheeler expected this was because the district was more specific with this bid.

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“We run Milestone in our district for our cameras,” Wheeler said of the video surveillance management software. “And so I wanted specific Milestone servers that are built for this software.”

NCSD gets a lot of use from its servers and “it’s causing major problems,” Wheeler added. The district has not had a rotation or seriously looked at its servers or server structures. Instead, Newton schools tended to add more cameras and better quality cameras. Doing so has strained the servers.

Wheeler told school board members that one of the servers has needed to be rebuilt three times in about a week. Luckily, there are backups to get the system up and running, but Wheeler says the servers have “used (up) their life” and no longer have any upgrades.

“We can’t add anything more to them,” he said. “They’re actually past their end of life, especially a couple of them that we have. This would replace all the servers in every building but Berg. Berg’s servers are new to the building, so there’s no reason to replace them.”

Purchasing the new equipment will “greatly improve” the user experience for the school district’s security officers, administrators and any one else who utilizes the video recording servers. The bid includes programming, installation and configuration of all the servers.

“I think we have the cameras we need in the district, but this is kind of the last step to make sure that we can look at our cameras in a timely manner,” Wheeler said.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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