March 19 Budget Meeting: Information Technology

The third of four budget committee meetings for NCCSD’s proposed 2024-25 budget was held March 19 in the Shaker Middle School Auditorium. The presentation on Information Technology included the topics: instructional hardware, network & infrastructure hardware, security cameras, and the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) 

“We are responsible for helping students grow as people whether they are five years old or 15 years old,” Superintendent Kathleen Skeals said. “We help them grow and learn and be the best version of themselves they can be … technology has never been more important, and making it work and safe is vital.” 

Technology Director Julie Scriven shared that in 2017-18 the district maintained a total of 6,900 devices and now, there are a total of 13,837 devices in use in the NCCSD during the current 2023-24 school year. The majority of that total is 8,465 chromebooks. The district went 1:1 across K-12 beginning with the 2021-22 school year. Also in use are PCs, macbooks, iMacs, and iPads. Included among the total devices are also phones, security cameras, TVs, and LED Touchpanels.

“While the increase is mainly 1:1 Chromebooks, the number of PCs has increased,” Mrs. Scriven said, referring to the current 23-24 number of 2,011 compared to 1,000 in the 2017-18 school year. “A lot more employees need a PC to do their job.” 

Instructional Hardware

The Chromebook 1:1 replacement plan for 23-24 addresses grades 1 (500);  5 (600);  9 (650); kindergarten (500); and staff (60) for the 2024-25 school year. The total cost is $753,220, with the majority costing $312 each. The replacement cycle for other devices totals $559,655 and department additions is $90,291 for an instructional hardware total cost of $1,403,166, Mrs. Scriven said. 

“Replacing at grades 1, 5, and 9 is most efficient,” Mrs. Scriven said. “After four years the battery life severely decreases as well as there is wear from student use,” Scriven said. However, screens remain usable and are pulled from the devices and saved for installation into other Chromebooks which is a cost savings.

She also explained to a BOE member who asked why there is a difference in cost between kindergarten-designated Chromebooks ($377) vs. the other Chromebooks ($312). The District is piloting touchscreens in kindergarten which have a slightly higher cost than standard screens.

In keeping with prior years, the total 24-25 budget request for instructional hardware, which includes the replacement cycle, additions that have been identified, and 1:1 Chromebooks is $1,370,996 million.  

Network Hardware/Infrastructure 

Subtracting the estimated eRate and BOCES aid, the network infrastructure 24-25 budget request is for $299,467. The two largest cost categories – storage and 24/7 cybersecurity monitoring – are the most vital for the district at this time, Mrs. Scriven said. 

“School districts are never (cyber) attacked during the school day,” Mrs. Scriven said. “It’s Friday night or the Fourth of July or Christmas Eve. These services we are proposing have the ability to shut down our systems to stop the spread so that very critical and important data is not accessed.” 

Security Cameras

In 24-25, Information Technology is seeking to purchase 144 cameras for a total cost of $266,409. Currently, all the basic exterior coverage is in place, Mrs. Scriven said, “and now we need to fill areas, like stairwells and add more along longer walls so coverage and detail is sharper.

“Every year we are going to have to add cameras,” she added. “I think the number will be less and around $50,000, but the industry standard is you replace them every 8 to10 years … the original ones purchased for the new middle school will be approaching that point. The good news is we can use Smart Schools funding.”

Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA)

Mrs. Scriven said she and her department are investigating ways to use the remaining $541,095 in Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) funds, which do not expire, in 2024-25. To date, of the $1.84 million allocation to the NCCSD, $477,703 has been spent on school connectivity and $819,582 on classroom technology.

The SSBA allowable expenditures fall into two categories. The shareable with non-public schools, which include: network improvements and instructional technology devices. The allowable, not shareable expenditures for SSBA funds fall into these categories: universal pre-K program space; replacement of classroom trailers; and high-tech security features. 

“There are some things to know,” Mrs. Scriven said. “The application process is long, really long – nine months from start to approval, and you can’t buy a single item until approved. So whatever we spend it on, we have to plan well in advance.”

For more information, the full March 19 budget presentation and livestream are available. The fourth and final presentation in the series of budget meetings is Wednesday, March 27 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Shaker Middle School Auditorium. The Board of Education will formally adopt the proposed 24-25 budget at the conclusion of this meeting.

The topics for this presentation prior to adoption are: staffing; anticipated building enrollment; and a proposed budget review which includes the updated tax cap calculation and property tax report card. Join us in-person or via livestream; click the live tab the day of the meeting.

The first budget meeting held March 5 was an introduction to the overall 2024-25 budget process as well as a long-range planning committee presentation for a proposed Capital Project to be included on the May 21 budget vote. Visit our Budget and Finance webpage for additional meeting information.