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Kingsport schools hear budget requests for technology needs

CHRISTAN M. THOMAS • Feb 2, 2007 at 11:18 AM

KINGSPORT - A need for additional network bandwidth topped concerns presented to the Kingsport City Schools Budget Committee on Friday.

Friday's Budget Committee meeting marked the third and final day of presentations from various school departments. Presenters included technology, community relations, facilities management, curriculum and instruction, and human resources.

Jerry Poteat, director of technology, said the department's number one concern is the need to upgrade from current copper T1 lines to fiber optic for Internet connectivity. Poteat said under the current system, a school connects at approximately 1.5 MB per second, which, he said, is half the speed of a typical home cable modem.

Upgrading the infrastructure to fiber optic, Poteat said, would increase bandwidth to 100 MB per second, essentially providing 150 times the bandwidth, increasing reliability and opening up possibilities for other projects. According to the request, fiber would cost approximately $700 to $820 per building per month.

"The bottom line is bite the bullet and just put the fiber in, and then we won't have to worry about it (reliability)," Poteat said. "Then we can grow and do all kinds of things."

Other requests included $10,000 for the installation of an automation system for WCSK radio station, as well as possible soundproofing and a new doorway for the station.

Facilities maintenance requested an increase of $40,000 and $25,000 for custodial and maintenance accounts, respectively, to be used for overtime/salaries and wages, as well as an increase of $50,000 for electricity.

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction requested increases for instructional materials, staff development and contracted services, and possible capital improvements to replace existing asbestos ceilings and tiles at the Palmer Center.

Nancy Wagner, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, also presented a solutions task force report that recommended immediate actions to provide transportation for the current alternative program at Lee School; utilization of East Tennessee State University graduate counseling interns; extension of Frontier Health contract to include at least two additional school assistance counselors; and the creation of an elementary alternative program to serve elementary students for behavior modification students.

As part of the Human Resources Department report, health services requested an increase in funds for flu vaccines and again mentioned an increase in pay for school nurses.

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