District 201 approves $239,000 technology upgrade line of credit

News-DemocratOctober 21, 2013 

Belleville School District 201 school board approved a line of credit with the Bank of Belleville at its meeting Monday night, which will be used for technology upgrades throughout the district.

"In the past three years, we have not increased the amount of technology on a significant basis," Superintendent Jeff Dosier said.

He explained the equipment is needed to prepare for the state's new entirely online student assessment format next school year.

"We want to get that started sooner rather than later," he said. "We have technology that teachers are using on a daily basis. We just need to expand that."

Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer said the district has outlined three major components of the technology upgrade plan to be completed within the next two or three years. The maximum cost for the scheduled upgrades is $239,414. However, Mentzer said it's unlikely the district will purchase all the items proposed.

The first part of the plan includes infrastructure upgrades to the district's computer servers at a cost of $37,000. Mentzer said district officials also plan to start piloting some individual devices for both students and teachers at a cost of approximately $15,000. These devices will include computers and netbooks.

Dosier said the district does not plan to purchase just one type of device. "We're going to use a couple of different devices and see which one meets what needs," he explained. "Different types of devices will serve different purposes."

The school board unanimously approved the lease purchase agreement with the Bank of Belleville on Monday night. Mentzer said the district's monthly lease payment will be determined by the amount the district spends on expenditures associated with technology upgrades.

Mentzer estimated the district will spend less than $60,000 this school year, which will be paid off through lease payments over an 11-month period. The district will use lease levy funds -- a portion of local property taxes -- to pay off the bonds, according to Mentzer.

The technology upgrade schedule also includes updating the equipment in computer labs at both Belleville West and East at a cost of $88,328. Approximately $100,000 is outlined for Samsung Google Chromebook devices for both schools.

Monday's meeting marked the first school board meeting at the district's new administrative headquarters, at 920 N. Illinois St. in Belleville. Dosier announced the district will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 1 in conjunction with the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce. The district purchased the new building at a cost of $474,000.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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