The Troup County Board of Education on Thursday approved about $2 million in special-purpose, local-option sales tax - SPLOST - projects that will revamp schools’ technology and communication networks.
Continuing a “refresh” of computer hardware that it began last year at schools, the board approved spending $1,311,764.40 in SPLOST funds for a purchase and installation from Sterling Computers Corporation of Norfolk, Neb., for replacing 1,526 desktop and 374 laptop computers at Berta Weathersbee, Callaway, Franklin Forest, Hillcrest, Hollis Hand, Long Cane, Mountville and Whitesville Road elementary schools, Ethel Kight Magnet School and the HOPE Academy.
The average age of computers at the schools is seven years old. John Radcliffe, assistant superintendent of maintenance and operations, said Monday that the school system can either allow Sterling to take away the old computers, or look at selling them to another company, depending on which offers the best deal.
The board also approved spending $440,705.91 in SPLOST funds to pay for wireless access points from CDW-G of Vernon Hills, Ill., and $131,985 in SPLOST funds for installation by Information Transport Solutions of Wetumpka, Ala. The total cost of the project is $572,690.91.
The new wireless access will be added to all schools in the school system, allowing students and staff to use mobile and other wireless Internet devices in the school buildings. Access will be restricted and monitored, and installation is set to begin during summer, Radcliffe said.
Another purchase is expected to save the school system money over time. The board approved using $236,446.35 in SPLOST funds to contract with Digital Agent LLC of Atlanta to install a voice-over-internet-protocol, or VOIP, phone system at all school system sites.
The benefit of this is we will use our SPLOST dollars to purchase the equipment, the hardware, if you will, but we’ll actually reduce our annual expenditures from the general fund by 85,000 plus,” Radcliffe said Monday. “So as we look at this system, we’re paying up front by using the SPLOST dollars, but we’re impacting the general fund by saving at least 85,000 dollars per year moving forward.”
Although SPLOST funds can be used to fund certain projects, the tax dollars cannot directly be used to supplement the school system’s general fund or pay for personnel.