A portion of Whitehall District Schools’ bus fleet is parked by the transportation garage. The district is updating the fleet through purchases using funds from the 2010 bond issue. The purchase of two 2011 buses was approved Monday. It is the final purc
Whitehall District Schools’ board of education has approved some of the last purchases from monies in the $11.7 million bond issue approved by voters in 2010.
The school board approved a purchase of a computer network system for just over a half million dollars and the purchase of two used 2011 school buses for $119,000.
The computer network, according to Eric Tanner, the district’s technology director, will provide 10-fold the capacity of the current 10-year-old system, which he says, is at full capacity.
“This (new system) will have better coverage and a larger band width for wireless,” he added, when presenting the purchase proposal to the school board.
The board approved the low bid of $514,453.39 from Netech. That bid includes a salvage credit of $25,649.23 for current equipment which will be replaced.
Scott Brune, president and CEO of Wright & Hunter, the district’s technology advisor, said there were two bids for the new network. Netech, a regional company which was started in 1996 in Grand Rapids, and eGear USA which had a bid of $605,577.25.
Brune said the eGear USA’s bid was not compliant because it did not include a Cisco system, requested in the bid documents.
The new system which will have a 10 Gigabit per second network switch infrastructure and a high capacity wireless system in all schools, includes: new core switch, new edge switching, upgradable wireless access points, new wireless controller, cabling for added wireless access points, security management and control system, faster access to internet and setup of callback numbers and e911 zones per state law requirements.
Brune said the system will also support the district’s new security camera system, and the district’s phone system.
Board Trustee Randall Fielstra expressed his concern that this new network system won’t be obsolescent prematurely.
“This is a half million dollars. It’s a pretty big decision,” he said.
The accepted bid is less than the $600,000 budgeted. Superintendent Jerry McDowell said the excess budgeted monies could be used for other bond approved projects.
Tanner said much of the installation work will be done this coming July.
Used buses coming
The school board approved the purchase of two 2011 77-passenger Freightliner school buses from Hoekstra Transportation of Grand Rapids at a bid of $119,000. The buses have a mileage of around 35,000 and will come with the remaining five-year warranty. They will be available in August.
McDowell said the buses will replace buses bought in 2000 and 2001 which have mileages 199,000 and 174,000. Those buses will be placed in reserve.
Jason Helsen, the district’s director of finance, said the cost of the buses and equipment remain under budget.
McDowell said these buses are the last bus purchases which were a part of the 2010 bond issue, which included new baseball and softball fields, a refurbished football stadium and track with a new fieldhouse; roofing, mechanical and parking improvements to current buildings; major; technology improvements in the classroom including Smart boards; building security systems; buses and maintenance equipment.
One proposed purchase which was tabled Monday night was a new mower.
The administration recommended the purchase of a demo model of a Jacobsen front rotary mower from Lakeshore Golf & Turf of Grand Rapids at a cost of $19,520.
It was one of three mowers bid. The Power Shop of Fremont bid a Kuboda side discharge mower for $20,675 and a John Deere mower at $16,953.09.
McDowell told the board the four-wheel drive Jacobsen mower would be used to groom the baseball and softball fields, and Lakeshore Golf & Turf would include a demonstration fertilization program for the athletic fields. The superintendent said an employee of the company lives in the Whitehall district.
A motion to purchase the Jacobsen was made by Trustee Ruth Grenell and supported by Treasurer Steve Markel, but the motion was tabled for further information.
Secretary Tom Mallory asked if the district had contacted White Lake Nursery in Whitehall for a bid. McDowell did not have the answer at the meeting, but said he would have that information. The board may take the motion off the table for action at its board retreat this Monday (March 4). The retreat will be held at 6 p.m. at the Maple Tree Inn.