TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

July 11, 2014

Wireless working well in Corbin schools

School board hears upgrades on technology

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

Proclaiming “We’re wireless now, with newer technology,” the Corbin Board of Education say their now full speed ahead with the changes and recent purchases during their special board meeting Thursday.

The district’s technology manager, Darrell Tremaine, said the number one priority was the purchase of a new core network switch that was approved last month.

It brings in a new core switch for the district, and a gateway switch at each location. While it leaves the district’s bandwidth at 1 gigabyte, an upgrade to 10 gigabytes can take place at any future date.

“The core switch is important. It handles all the traffic that goes in and out of the district. We’re big on students bringing their own devices, and when they bring their devices, they get on the district’s networks, and we can track that which allows us control over content, “ Tremaine said after the session, held at the District Office on Roy Kidd Avenue.

The district’s network engineer, Rob Miller, said the upgrades helps throughout the Corbin Independent Schools, adding the wireless package is for everywhere in the school district except Corbin High School, which already had the newest technology when the building was remodeled and upgraded.

Corbin High currently has a/b/g/n dense coverage for wireless. The upgrades will allow the other district locations to do the same.

“It helps the district. If you buy a device with new technology it will work in an old building, but the new wireless technology is more advanced,” he noted.

Tremaine pointed out the district was helped on the purchase by getting big discounts from two sources — from Avaya communications and collaboration systems, as well as from Pomeroy, which is the state-approved vendor for Avaya in Kentucky. It was estimated the district got around $25,000 off the wireless package, and may also receive $10,000 in coal severance tax money from Whitley County.

In one of the actions taken at the meeting, board members approved the purchase from Pomeroy for wireless access points throughout the school district, excluding Corbin High School, at a purchase price of $39,371.46.  Another technology-related action came with the approval of a resolution, for the use of 2014 Local Government Economic Development Fund (LGEDF) to use money for technology infrastructure throughout the school district.

They also approved a motion to support seeking new models for funding secondary schools. Administrative Assistant Dave Cox said it would provide a different way of looking at the ADA (the Average Daily Attendance, which is used in funding for public schools in Kentucky), as well as lets districts create academies, and really expands on the co-op process.

It was mentioned to the board that federal education officials were selecting in “3 to 5 high schools in 3-5 states” for a new program dealing with new funding models, with Kentucky one of the states involved.

Superintendent Ed McNeel added that while details are still sketchy and when a decision would be made, the Corbin schools are being considered for the program.

“It’s up to the KDE Commissioner to decide if Corbin makes it,” he said, referring to the Kentucky Department of Education’s Commissioner, Terry Holliday.

McNeel also discussed the budget for the upcoming school year. He said that while the district didn’t have the growth this year as in previous years, the school system was still looking at a 1.5 percent growth rate for 2014-15. He admitted there were some deficits in a couple of departments, such as a deficit of around $60,000 in Food Services and around $30,000 in the Preschool program.

He also said there may be a need for a special meeting later this month, for approving the bids for the BG-1 (Buildings and Grounds) document for the Corbin Area Technology Center (CATC) project, as well as dealing with issues relating to the sale of bonds for the CATC project. Board members agreed to hold the special session on Tuesday, July 29 at 5:30 p.m. at the Corbin Center.

Overall, McNeel pointed out the district was solid, with around $1.5 million in the General Fund — about 6 percent held in contingency for emergencies — which is well above the 2 percent minimum the state recommends for districts to maintain in their annual budgets.

In his comments, he briefly updated the option on purchasing the Poynter property on Master Street, which would be used as the entrance to the site of the Corbin Education Center at St. Camillus on 709 Roy Kidd Avenue. McNeel said a 60-day extension on the purchase plans would be asked for at the August board meeting.

Earlier, board members approved a BG-1 (Buildings and Grounds) document for the Corbin Education Center at St. Camillus site, to purchase and construct security doors, pending approval from the KDE.

Other actions included granting McNeel authority to add two full-time teaching positions for the new school year, due to program and student needs, with board members informed during board meetings following actions by the superintendent.

Also approved was changing salary schedule 121B from a flat annual amount to include an annual experience step increase of 0.5 percent up to 20-year experience with the school district. The increase goes into effect this school year.

The first reading for board policies for dress and appearance for certified and classified personnel was approved, with minor edits needed for both. Approval was also given to contract services with the Corbin Public Housing Authority, and the Knox County Public Schools, to provide 21st Century Community Learning Center programs for the new school year, to be paid from grant funds. In addition, the low quote from State Wide Paving, of Heidrick, Ky. for paving projects at Corbin High, Corbin Intermediate, Corbin Primary and Corbin Elementary Schools was given approval, not to exceed $23,600 for the total projects.

And the BG-5 document for the Corbin High School Phase 2 project was approved, pending Kentucky Department of Education approval in Frankfort. If the KDE gives the green light, the Corbin High renovation project will be completed.

Two federal grant applications were given approval by the board. One is for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant from the U. S. Department of Education for $300,000, with the other the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Grant from the U. S. Department of Justice for $125,000.

While Thursday’s meeting was held on the regular date for monthly meetings — the second Thursday of the month — it was called a special meeting due to the meeting time being changed from 7 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. That was approved by the board last month.

It will continue to be the case the rest of this year, with the next monthly meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Corbin Educational Center on South Main Street.

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