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District telecomm reimbursement based on free and reduced lunch

September 28, 2010
The Warren County School District wants to make sure every family that qualifies for free and reduced lunches signs up. That hope is not based on sheer benevolence. The number of free and reduced-rate lunches determines the district’s reimbursement on its telecommunications bills. “E-Rate is a fund that was set up in the Clinton administration,” finance committee chairman Jeff Lockett said. “It’s on your phone bill as federal service fund or universal service fee.” The money collected through those additional charges on phone bills is passed back to libraries and schools through E-Rate, Lockett said. “The amount that comes off of our bills is based on our free and reduced lunch.” Typically, the district gets back about 60 percent of the bill. “Our fiber (optic communication) is almost $15,000 per month,” Lockett said. “We’re getting 60 percent of that back.” E-Rate saves the district more than $100,000 a year on fiber services alone. The district reimbursement applies to services including fiber-optic, land lines, and other telecommunications services. Districts with higher percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches are reimbursed for equipment as well as services. Server farm The district’s data center, sometimes called a server farm, is past its prime. The center is a group of computers “that run the district,” according to Coordinator of Technology and Information Management Brian Collopy. “2004 was the first year we went live.” “Six years is about five generations of technology back, at least,” Lockett said. With new software constantly adding to the load on the equipment, the center is due for an overhaul. Lockett said that upgrade is a “budgeted item” for this year. The budgeted amount is $750,000. “We’ve worked with several vendors,” Collopy said. “We’re expecting a preliminary proposal” from one of those. Once the preliminary figures are in, the district can contract for “a real proposal with real costs,” he said. That work will require going over the system “with a fine-tooth comb.” Installation of the new equipment should be completed during the first quarter of 2011, he said, with the system going fully live over the summer to avoid disruptions. Lockett said a technology committee including administrators, board members, and community businesses “entrenched in technology,” meets regularly to watch the progress and advise the district.


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