The Van Buren Community School Board received good news in its attempt to get adequate bandwidth to the Douds Center during its regular meeting on Dec. 19.
The administration has been in contact with Windstream, and they offered a solution that is cheaper than an original cost of running fiber optic several miles to the school.
Superintendent Lisa Beames said Windstream has agreed to splice the fiber ring near the school in order to provide this enhanced service. This will provide 50 megabytes of bandwidth at a charge of $3,000 per month, or $36,000 per year.
“If this can be e-rated, the cost will reduce to somewhere around $18,000,” Beames said. “While this is high compared to the high school and a general fund expense, I do not see a more viable solution.”
Currently, staff and students are restricted on online educational opportunities, staff training and other advantages associated with a high bandwidth.
Beames said the actual connectivity cannot be completed until sometime in the spring, but in order to assure completion prior to August, an agreement must be entered into before Monday. Beames recommended granting approval for the month-to-month agreement at this time.
“Through the work that we have done exploring options, the probability of another vendor is minimal,” Beames said. “If one presents itself, we can explore whatever other option is presented.”
The board approved entering into a contract with Windstream.
“It’s wonderful that we have that option,” said board president Kara McEntee.
Much of the credit is due to Mark Garrett, of Milton, who is employed with Windstream, said Robyn Nolting, board secretary.
School activity policy
The board held a reading on its policy dealing with school activities on Wednesday evenings and Sundays. The board had considered changing the current policy to not allow practice after 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and not allow Sunday practice unless a contest is scheduled on the Monday immediately following.
However, at last month’s board meeting, some board members expressed concern about the changes and possibly restricting coaches and voted to keep the policy. The only change is that coaches must get administrative approval to practice on Sunday.
In other news:
• The board received roofing bids. Low bidder was Brockway Mechanical and Roofing for $117,780.
• The board received bids for two buses. The chosen bidder was Thomas Bus Sales for $178,078.
The administration recommended that the district purchase the two buses from Thomas Bus Sales as School Bus Sales, the low bidder, did not meet the bid specifications. The district currently maintains the replacement parts for said buses, making them more cost efficient in the long term.
• Van Buren Coach Dave Alvis was selected as a 2013 Coach of the Year finalist. There is a banquet to announce the winner on June 26, 2013, in Des Moines.
• Van Buren student Faith Murphy fundraised to provide Christmas gifts for needy students.
• The secretary’s financial report was approved. The balance is $2,520,160.95 in the general fund as of Nov. 30, and balance in the schoolhouse fund is $2,020,439.29, as of Nov. 30.