Grant helps improve technology at Hithcock-Tulare school
Mar 12, 2013 (American News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A $10,000 project is allowing Hitchcock-Tulare School District to update its technology program and paving the way for the possible purchase of devices such as iPads or Chromebooks.
Luckily, a grant was there to cover 80 percent of the cost of computer network upgrades at the schools.
"We were a little bit behind in our technology infrastructure, and this grant will update our servers, switches and update wireless access points," said Jeff Clark, CEO of the Hitchcock-Tulare School District.
Support comes from the South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, which received a grant to establish a state broadband program as part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's State Broadband Initiative.
The South Dakota Broadband Initiative awarded its first grants to 15 community anchor institutions in July and 26 more were awarded this winter. Institutions that are eligible include libraries, schools, government and public safety offices, healthcare sites and places that offer community support.
Hitchcock-Tulare schools and New Tec in Aberdeen were among those in the region that received grants.
"Any time you've got some money out there that you can get to help fund a project like this to cover half or more, it does help motivate you," Clark said. "You don't want to leave that kind of money sitting on the table."
The goal is to get every community anchor institution speedier broadband service of at least 1 gigabit per second.
Jamie Fry, the technology planning manager for the state broadband initiative, said it's great when he sees the results of projects.
"We all know funding is tight and usually cuts happen first in this area," Fry said of the information technology sector. "It's cool to see these types of organizations be able to make this a reality." Brandon Lemer, the executive director of New Tec, said firewall improvements and wireless access points were installed a couple weeks ago. A SMART board interactive white board was also purchased as part of New Tec's project.
Sites are visited by the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications. They make recommendations as to what upgrades are needed.
At Hitchcock-Tulare schools, installation of new wireless access points, among other network changes, will be completed at the end of the month. That paves the way for the possibility of becoming a 1-1 school where each student could have a computer.
"I don't know if it's something we'll phase in," Clark said. "Right now, there's a technology team of teachers, administrators and school board members working on what will be the best."
In order to receive a grant, institutions had to show a 20 percent investment into the project. This project in the Hitchcock-Tulare School District will cost $9,966.40. For NewTec's project, that figure is $8,575.
Lemer said the South Dakota Broadband Initiative also helps institutions secure greater amount of savings on technology products.
"It's quite a deal," he said.
He encourages other community anchor institutions to apply for the grants. Another application cycle will begin Friday.
"It's really going to be great and it's going to increase broadband usage especially in rural areas that don't have that high-speed Internet," Lemer said. "It's kind of exciting to have the technology upgrades offered by the state."
Lemer and Clark said they would consider applying for more grant money to help fund future projects.
"I think it's a great program, and it's a great initiative that will help fund and improve some technology across our state," Clark said.
Fry said his work with schools, hospitals, libraries and other community support centers has been rewarding.
"It's been pretty cool to be out there working with these community support institutions," he said.
For more information on the South Dakota Broadband Initiative, visit broadband.sd.gov.
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