Westfield Board of Education Discusses Facilities and Technology

Brian Auker Credits: Alexandria Addesso
Westfield BOE roundtable Credits: Alexandria Addesso
Proposed technological upgrades Credits: Alexandria Addesso

WESTFIELD, NJ - Facilities and technology were the focal points of Tuesday night's Board of Education workshop meeting.

The first half of the meeting was spent discussing facilities and the projected financial means to upgrade them. New Westfield High School lockers, motorized gym doors for Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools as well a new boiler for Roosevelt are all top-priority projects that will be done in the next three years. A new boiler for Tamaques Elementary School will be installed next summer and the town will be heading the re-grade and sodding of the field at Jefferson Elementary School via funds awarded by the county.

Aside from possible grants from the state, which won't be announced until Dec. 4 and might only cover 40 percent of any project, most of these projects will be covered by the maintenance or capital reserve accounts, the operating budget or fundraising.

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“The capital reserve is for major projects,” said Dana Sullivan, board member and business administrator. “The maintenance reserve is for just that, maintenance.”

Although it was already formally agreed upon back in June, the $1.3 million to be deposited in the capital reserve account from the previous year’s fund balance was also discussed. The deposit has not yet been finalized and will not be until the completion of the audit.

The chief technology officer of Westfield Schools, Brian Auker, gave a presentation on the need for technological upgrades during the second half of the meeting.

“The access layer switches need to be the first things we replace,” said Auker, “the current access layer switches are, unfortunately, 10 years old.”

The access layer switches enable the district’s buildings’ IP telephones, computers and wireless devices. With more than 100 students already using tablets at WHS in the Bring Your Own Devices Pilot Programs (BYOD), Auker emphasised the overwhelming shift in the near future towards using such devices in classrooms.

Second in importance was upgrading and adding new access points, he said. Auker explained that to accommodate more devices, more access points need to be added, particularly in classrooms. With most of the current access points located in hallways, metal lockers as well as moisture and pipes in the walls can block the radio waves from reaching the classrooms.

Adding Cisco ISE for wireless management was also on the list of technological upgrades, as well as increased internet speed, the latter of which is covered by the operating budget. The district’s internet currently runs at the speed of 100 megabytes and Auker said he wants to increase that speed to somewhere from 250 to 500 megabytes.

“Some districts are up to a gigabyte,” he told the Board of Education.

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