Web Enterprise Project Will Help College of Southern Idaho Address Technical Challenges

The college website and operating systems will get a $400,000 makeover.

by Julie Wootton, The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho / August 16, 2016

(TNS) — TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The College of Southern Idaho is moving forward with a nearly $400,000 project to improve its website and operating systems.

CSI trustees unanimously voted Monday to award a $397,780 bid to POWER Engineers for a web enterprise initiative project. The one-time money will come out of the college's general fund.

A college official says effective technology is directly linked to the success of classroom instruction and day-to-day college operations, such as taking payments and registering students.

"CSI really needs to overcome some challenges that are technical based," chief technology officer Kevin Mark said.

The upgrade project will serve the needs of the entire campus, said Jeff Harmon, vice president of administration. The project will take an estimated 32 weeks to implement.

But "we don't want to enter this contact lightly," he said. CSI officials have considered the project for a couple of months.

There's a lot of interest among employees, Mark said, "and the pressure is not light." He said he's confident the project is the right move for CSI.

When the project was mentioned during Monday morning's in-service event, there was a good response from employees, trustee Bob Keegan said.

The project will improve the public CSI website, plus modernize student applications and software used by employees, such as for admissions and performance management.

It's a complex request that requires a significant investment, executive vice president Todd Schwarz told trustees, so he wanted to make sure they understand the details.

Today's students are in a generation that expects a certain caliber of technological integration, Mark told trustees. And, he added, CSI has work to do to meet those expectations.

If CSI doesn't have a compelling web platform, students may go to competing schools, he said. There's no way around it: There's a need for technology that's "reliable, resilient and predictable," he added.

New systems will stabilize core operations, Mark said, such as registering students and handling financial aid. He said those systems have to work like a light switch.

Upgrades will resolve the majority of online needs for student enrollment, community education sign-ups and upgrading CSI's website, which has been "a point of concern," Mark said.

CSI put out a request for proposals for the project. Officials also reached out to companies to invite them to bid. The college receive only one bid -- from POWER Engineers.

Other companies either said the scope of the project was too small or had timing conflicts, Mark said.

POWER Engineers has a depth of experience with similar projects, Mark said, and met all of CSI's requirements during the bidding process.

Board chairman Karl Kleinkopf said when he sees a nearly $400,000 bid with only one bidder, that raises concerns. He asked if CSI has met legal requirements. Harmon said he believes the college has.

During their meeting, trustees also:

Held a budget hearing for the 2017 fiscal year and approved a budget.

The budget is built assuming a 10 percent enrollment decline, Harmon said. But as of Monday, enrollment numbers were a bit better than predicted -- down 8 percent.

CSI expects to bring in about $11.7 million in tuition and fees this fiscal year. And the total state apportionment is about $13.5 million -- an 8.67 percent increase over last year.

The college also anticipates a 4.78 percent increase in county property tax revenues from Twin Falls and Jerome counties.

Unanimously awarded a $95,892 bid to Western Mountain Bus & Parts Sales of Nampa for a school bus for the Head Start program.

Voted 4-0 to award a $270,000 bid to Burks Tractor of Twin Falls and a $20,9000 bid to Idaho Instrument of Twin Falls for equipment for the college's new agriculture diesel program, including two tractors, a backhoe, front end loader and electrical training boards. Trustee Laird Stone didn't vote, saying he does legal work occasionally for Burks Tractor.

©2016 The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.