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Posted: 05/15/13

RCS approves bid for
tech infrastructure

Observer Staff Writer
      One must walk before they run, or in this case, one must establish infrastructure before they can connect.
       The Romeo Community Schools Board of Education granted approval to have Integrated Systems Specialists (ISS) of Macomb install a new infrastructure for the district as part of the technology bond.
       The motion passed with a 6-1 vote. Trustee Chris Young was the dissenting vote at the May 6 meeting.
       A total of eight bids were collected by the district to install wired and wireless network infrastructure in preparation for distributing 5,000-plus personal devices to students. The new network will create 600 access points throughout the district.
       Mark Nelson, executive director of technology, said the infrastructure will be a key component when rolling out different aspects of the technology bond in the coming months.
       "This is the foundation for all that will come later when we talk about devices for students and classroom enhancements," Nelson said.
       The eight bids were narrowed down to three, with each company providing a base bid and a bid that includes voluntary alternates. ISS' base bid was $725,239 with the total bid at $845,333 including the alternates.
       Nelson said the biggest factor for choosing ISS was its access points. The district required 3-by-3 antennas, but the company chose an upgraded version that Nelson said increases bandwidth by 25 percent.
       "That makes a huge impact when you talk about high-density networks, which is exactly what we're going to have," he said.
       Nelson said he also liked the company's Network Access Control (NAC) solution to secure access to the network, saying it goes hand-in-hand with the multiple devices that will join the district's network.
       NAC solutions prevent a device from accessing a network unless it meets a set of established policies for items like anti-virus programs.
       "It allows us to implement policies and force those policies at the time of someone joining the network," Nelson said. "I think it makes sense right now when we're building the network to implement this solution."
       Nelson said even with the NAC included, the total bid from ISS came in under the budgeted maximum of $892,000. ISS also has an eight-year history with the district, namely with setting up its security camera network.
       The board's financial subcommittee reviewed the information and encouraged the full board to take action sooner rather than later.
       "I know everyone is anxious to see tools, but this work is hugely important," said Board President Anita Banach.
       All of the wired and wireless network will be handled through one server, which Nelson said makes it easier to manage when compared to multiple servers.
       The actual network will be done by Enterasys Networks, which Nelson said has 53 percent of its market shares in education and has networks in districts like Lansing Community College and Port Huron schools.

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