February 20, 2014The Grosse Pointe Public School System provided the following questions and answers for the technology bond proposal. The election is Feb. 25.
What do we have and want to keep?
We want to keep our focus on learning and we want to keep our community's trust that we are wisely spending the funds allocated to us to better prepare tomorrow's leaders and to protect our constituents' investments in this community. Property values are directly tied to the quality of our public school system. This is an investment in that quality.
What don't we have and don't want?
While we recognize this is the third of four key questions related to the Japanese principle of "Poka-yoke" a term that means "mistake-proofing," our planning efforts focused on educational, security and business efficiency needs, not a wish-list of unnecessary things.
What do we have but don't want?
We have computers that are older than the elementary students using them. We have a network that cannot sustain the technological demands of today's classrooms. We have to ask for help to move beyond this. It cannot be accomplished within our existing general budget.
Will money from the Tech Bond be used to pay teacher salaries and benefits?
No. School districts are not allowed to use funds from a bond issue for operating expenses such as teacher, administrator, or employee salaries. Bond funds must be kept separate from operating funds. Aside from initial purchased services for installation and data transfer, staffing is not a permitted expense. However, the district recognizes the scope of this initiative will require additional GPPSS staff which will be paid for through the general operating budget. We are carefully weighing how many are needed for this to be successful and what budget concessions will be required from other areas in order to meet this need.
Do you have a documented implementation methodology?
We continue to study the recent deployment of similar devices in other school districts (Ann Arbor, Chippewa Valley, Farmington, Fraser, Romeo, etc.) as well as businesses (health systems). We are working with Bruce Umpstead, State Director of the Office of Education Improvement and Innovation and gleaning insight from him and his staff. As described, the first phase of the bond will focus on infrastructure. During that time we will provide staff development and continue to develop and refine our deployment strategy. Deployment will be tied to the summer student registration process and will include but not be limited to:
- Registration and configuration of devices
- Student and parent signatures on an updated technology code of conduct that includes fiscal and physical responsibility for the equipment and use
- Distribution of equipment
- Opportunity to purchase related optional equipment at reduced prices through economy of scale (cases, headphones, etc. as we do gym uniforms and rental of instruments)
- A written plan with district contact information should there be a problem (loss, damage)
How will you mitigate risk?
We will use good planning to mitigate as much risk as possible and we will learn from each new challenge. We have spent a year analyzing our current hardware, software, network and professional development. We have spent the last three months gathering insight from our own staff, from experts across the state and country, and from research and site visits. We will spend the next year rolling out the plan we have developed for professional development and our pilot project for hardware with GPPSS.
The budget calls for 1,262 phones for the district, but according to a chart, the district only has 949 staff. What are the 313 extra phones for?
The telephone counts are based on the installed telephones in the buildings. These include classrooms, cafeterias, multipurpose rooms, media centers, offices and conference rooms. Telephones are identified for all instructional rooms and all other rooms in the building as a life safety measure.
VOIP phone servers go for around $8K to $10K each. What specification was used to determine a server cost of $30K each?
Based on past projects, the servers are estimated at $30,000. The server needs to last for five years. That may require upgrades after three years to meet that 5-year lifecycle. Also included in the unit price are shipping, installation labor, vendor insurance and bonding requirements. In addition, we need to include the operating software licensing and hardware warranty for five years. This is not a unit price to simply purchase a server only.
This section assumes contingency and inflation costs of $65K. Buying phones and servers shouldn't require a contingency or inflation holdbacks. Why are they included?
For any large project, a contingency is included as a best practice for unknown conditions and owner requested additions. Inflation is a future-proofing effor to counter any inflation during the bond projects. 2. Yes, the spare phones are planned to replace broken or missing phones.
The phones are not budgeted to be purchased multiple times. Why is $24K in inflation included?
Some telephones may be purchased in future years throughout the 10-year bond. Inflation is a future-proofing effort to counter any inflation during the bond projects.
What architectural/engineering fees are included for phones? This budget includes $40K for engineering fees for an off the shelf hardware item?
According to Board Policy and standard operating procedure for school systems throughout the state, a competitive bid process must be conducted. This is not a simple purchase of replacement telephones. This is an entire telephone and messaging system. GPPSS has not purchased a telephone system in over 10 years, the designers (engineers) work on these types of projects continuously. This helps the school system make informed decisions throughout the design, bid evaluation and implementation phases. Specifications and drawings are required to communicate the needs of the school system and provide an apples-to-apples comparison of proposals for the entire telephone messaging system.
How are the number of computers being accounted for?
The budget includes the purchase of 3,806 desktop or laptop computers twice over the ten years. There are 620 traditional classrooms that are planned to each receive a teacher computer and a presentation computer connected to the interactive Smart Boards. So that equates to 1,240. There are 81 computer labs in Grosse Pointe. Assuming 30 student computers per lab that equates to 2,430. An addition 136 computers are designated for non-classrooms including offices, media centers, spares and other areas for a grand total of 3,806 computers.
The 146 laptop/desktop allocated to community campus, miscellaneous locations and tech department are assumed to be spares. Is this correct?
This equates to 73 computers purchased twice over the ten years. That does include spare computers to minimize service interruptions. It also includes computers for the 16 classrooms in Barnes and 5 classrooms at Community Campus. That is 42 computers for those classrooms.
Estimated cost of $1,200 for a laptop/desktop is more than double what the going rates are (which includes ancillaries such as keyboards, mouse, monitor). What specification was used to develop the budget amount?
A competitive bid conducted in another Wayne County school system in April of 2013 yielded an average unit price of $1,026 with a 5-year warranty for desktops and 4-year warranty for laptops. These are also commercial/enterprise grade computers, not consumer grade computers sold at Best Buy and other consumer outlets. Also dependent on options selected by Grosse Pointe such as the amount of memory, amout of storage, storage type, ancillary devices and accessories - the price will fluctuate. Also, this is an average price over 10 years. Dektop specifications include fourth generation i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB Solid-State Drive, DVD burner, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, and 22" wide-screen LED LCD monitors.
How will you define success?
We will define success as we always have - are we preparing students for the challenges they will face in continuing education and the workforce? This is the summative assessment for all we do. Our formative assessments include performance on MEAP, NWEA, classroom and common assessments. We also analyze student engagement through participating in class, attendance, and surveys of teachers, students, parents and community members. We look at acceptance into colleges and universities and are gathering alumni data on how well we prepare students for lifelong learning. This technology bond would provide additional tools for us to meet the 24/7 educational needs of today's student, but does not change our vision: Every student. Every day.
For more information, visit the schools website, gpschools.org under the technology bond quick link. Letters to the editor regarding the proposed bond are found in the first section this newspaper. Results will be published in the Feb. 27 issue of the Grosse Pointe News.