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E-Rate and Cisco Help Richland Schools, Pa. Upgrade WiFi

With the help of matching funds from the federal E-Rate program, the Pennsylvania district is spending more than $180,000 to upgrade its eight-year-old network with 78 wireless access points and 12 switches.

(TNS) — Richland School Board approved several infrastructure projects during Monday's meeting, including more than $180,000 in spending to upgrade the district-wide wireless Internet system.

"We've been in the planning process for about a year now," district IT systems administrator Shawn Hostetler said prior to the meeting.

The approval includes the purchase of 78 Cisco-Meraki wireless access points, 12 Cisco-Meraki switches, a five-year licensing deal to cover each device and various cables and adapters.

However, Richland won't be responsible for the entire cost. The Federal Communication Commission's E-Rate program, which assists schools and libraries with Internet-associated costs, will cover 50 percent of the $184,894.49 cost. The remaining balance will be covered with funds from the approved technology budget.

Hostetler said the project has been in the works for a few years and is needed to keep up with the amount of wireless devices the district has.

The system in place at the moment is roughly eight years old, and once the new equipment is in place, it will last at least that long, if not longer, Hostetler said.

"This project is definitely built with future-proofing in mind," he said.

Despite this approval, there's no solidified time frame for installation. That's because the vendors reported that devices are on back-order, Hostetler said. The initial plan was to have the project done by the new school year, but that's not feasible anymore.

In addition to this motion, the board also approved several other infrastructure upgrades, including installation of carpeting at the elementary building by Nittany Building Specialties Inc. for $16,340.09, preventative maintenance for the field house boiler by Combustion Service Equipment for $2,930.90, replacement of the elementary kiln for $4,000 and a three-year preventive maintenance contract for the district's energy management system with OZ Enterprises at a cost of $14,188.

SMP Asphalt and Maintenance will also clean and fill cracks and double-coat various areas for $11,000, while Grant Painting will paint five high school classrooms for $7,808, selected sections of the high school and elementary sidewalks will be replaced or repaired by Moyer Concrete for $11,500 and Otis Elevator Co. will perform a hydraulic cylinder repacking of the elementary elevator car for $3,188.

The board also approved the purchase of 12 Falcon 928-2 cameras for school buses from Zentinel for $20,196.

Arnold Nadonley, district superintendent, said many of these projects are annually approved, such as the painting, carpet and asphalt fixes.

©2021 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.