VALPARAISO | By the time school starts again in August, all the classrooms at Valparaiso High School, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson middle schools should have wireless connectivity.
The Valparaiso Community Schoolsl board approved a contract at last month's meeting with Millies Engineering, of Munster, for $28,500 to design, prepare the specifications and oversee installing improvements to update the wireless at all three buildings.
"When we start assigning a computer to each student, the network will be able to sustain that," said Bill Moran, technology director. "We probably are about 65 to 75 percent of the capacity we need now. There are still a number of classrooms we don't cover."
The project should be ready to go out for bids by mid-May. Installation is scheduled to be completed by July 31 so students will be able to use laptops, iPads or whatever device they are assigned to access homework, do assignments and access digital content, Moran said.
Although the School Board still is gathering information before making a decision on the future use of all its buildings, Moran said the two middle schools and the high school are expected to be used as schools in the future, and the technology updates will be needed.
"If the function changes as to grade level, they will still be a school, and the students will need the access," he said. "We are getting them ready for a digital learning environment. If we build anything new, we would include that in the specifications for the new building."
Millies also received a $15,000 contract to analyze and recommend improvements to the public address, telephone and warning systems at all the district's schools. That review is expected to take about six months, Moran said.
"Some of the PA systems are in such a dilapidated state they are barely functional," he said. "We are not going to act on it. It is just an assessment of where we stand with the emergency system, and it will give us an idea of what we need to do. It could be part of the buildings plan the board develops."
He said some of the technology dates to the 1980s, and there is no consistency. Some alarm systems are tied to the phones and some aren't and all of them probably need updating.