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District 156 seeks bids for technology

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

McHENRY – School District 156 is seeking bids for telecommunications and Internet services until March 11.

The district on Friday posted requests for proposals for cellphones and service, a landline phone system and Internet services. Officials expect to implement the technology by July.

This year, the McHenry High School district became eligible for 50 percent reimbursement for telecommications and Internet services under the Federal Communication Commission e-rate program.

The reimbursement rate is based on a school’s percentage of low-income students.

School administrators and staff at both campuses have been taking inventory of the district’s increasingly outdated and limited computer network for more than a year. On average, computers at both campuses are 10 years old, and classrooms lack projectors, meaning that teachers have to share mobile projectors. Internet service runs at 41 megabytes, a small bandwidth network, said Joseph Zelek, director of network technology services.

Last year, Zelek worked out the district’s technology plan, which calls for wireless infrastructure as the first step ­toward efficiency and enhanced classroom learning.

Efforts to revamp the infrastructure coincides with an upcoming referendum.

The school district will ask voters on April 9 to use $2.2 million saved in the refinancing of $29 million in bonds for infrastructure and to upgrade technology rather that returning the money to homeowners in a slight property-tax reduction. If voters reject the referendum, the tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 house would go down about $14 a year.

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