The Elizabeth Martin Elementary School does not currently offer Internet Access to its students. This proposal offers information about the problem and the proposed solution. It is recommended that Internet access be provided within the next 120 days. A proposed program for the installation and implementation is made part of this proposal. A budget has been prepared, and made part of this proposal. The total cost of installation and implementation is $20,500.
The Elizabeth Martin Elementary School, located at the intersection of Wabank and Millersville Roads, Lancaster Township, and part of the School District of Lancaster, does not currently have Internet access available for its students. Several teachers use dial up access, mostly via a slow modem connection and using AOL as the Internet provider, to show students Internet sites as part of the learning experience. At best, students huddle around a computer with a teacher attempting to see what is on the screen.
The school has 15 classrooms, a library, and two teacher lounges. A total student population of 401 students, the school provides education for students from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade.
There are a total of 49 computers available in the school for student and teacher use. (This does not include administration computers, used by the administration and support staff in the management of the school. This proposal does not include Internet access for those computers, but access could be added to this proposal for a minor (less than $550) budget increase.
There will be an additional 31 computers provided to this school within the next 30 days. Perhaps best described as "hand me downs" these slightly older computers are still functional and available from a recently updated computer lab from another school within the district. That school recently received an endowment, providing new computers from a local business. This proposal provides for the connectivity of 80 computers to the Internet for access by the students.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, since 1994 the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has surveyed the nation's public schools to measure what proportion of them is connected to the Internet. "By the fall of 2000, almost all public schools in the United States had access to the Internet: 98% were connected. In comparison, 35% of public schools had access to the Internet in 1994," the May 2001 study reported. The Martin Elementary school remains in the 2% of public schools not connected.
Relying on the Martin students to connect to the Internet at home is unreliable and impracticable. According to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics, more school-age children in the nation use computers at school than at home (Newburger 2001). The survey "Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools, Fall 2001" obtained information on various measures of student access to computers at school, such as the ratio of students to instructional computers with Internet access, student access to the Internet outside of regular school hours, and laptop loans to students.
The study cites that only 21% of children in the nation used the Internet at home for school-related tasks. This would mean that 79% of the student population at Martin School - a total of 316 students - would not have Internet Access.
The U.S. Department of Education publication, the Parents Guide to the Internet offers the following information about the benefits of school students connecting to the Internet:
The Benefits of Getting on the Information Superhighway:
computer that is connected to the Internet allows you to turn your home, community center, local library, or school into a place of unlimited information and communication. The Internet can help your family:
Find educational resources, including up-to -- the minute news, copies of important documents and photos, and collections of research information on topics ranging from weather conditions to population statistics.
Get help with homework through online encyclopedias and other reference materials and access to experts.
Increase reading skills by providing access to interesting materials and suggestions for additional reading.
Improve technology and information skills necessary to find and use information, solve problems, communicate with others, and meet a growing demand for these skills in the workplace.
Connect with places around the world to exchange mail with electronic pen pals and learn about other cultures and traditions.
Locate parenting information and swap ideas with other families.
Learn and have fun together by sharing interesting and enjoyable experiences."
Clearly, there seems to be little reason why the Elizabeth Martin School should not be connected to the Internet.
This proposal, if accepted, offers one clear goal: connecting 80 computers at the Elizabeth Martin School to the Internet. The physical connectivity creates several challenges, as the school is long, and appears as an "L" shape. The rooms to be wired are at both ends of the building, requiring an extended networking challenge. It could not be much further of a run for the physical cabling.
On the bright side, the building, although a basic cinderblock structure, has false ceilings in all classrooms. The ceilings are suspended, making for an inexpensive run of networking cable.
The networking cable proposed is CAT 5 cable. To save labor costs, the Parent-Teachers Association has agreed to provide free parent volunteer labor on a Saturday to run and install the cable in the suspended ceiling. By doing so, the cost of labor required to run the CAT 5 cabling system is eliminated. The only cost is for the materials.
When final approval is granted, the chosen Internet provider will provide a T1 line to the communications closet, located in the school's main office. This is where the school telephone switch board, and other electronics is located. That T1 connection will be terminated, and from there, a network engineer will install a router, hubs, and other hardware necessary to connect the computer lab rooms, classrooms, and library to the Internet. The current computers (49) will receive new Network Interface Cards (NIC) to allow connectivity via an Ethernet hub, to be placed in the various rooms.
The proposed Internet connectivity will offer high speed service to the student's computer. High speed hubs and NICs are requested. Many systems are rated at 10 Megs per second. The network system recommended here offers 100 Megs per second - 10 times the speed of many systems installed and working in other schools and businesses. The higher speed makes sense, because of the increased dependence and demand of Internet connectivity. This will also allow remote instructional broadcasts - which are often streaming video - to be dependable and reliable into the classroom.
The Hubs (connection boxes) vary in size, depending on the rooms being connected. The two computer laps will receive the largest hubs, the library the next largest hub, and the selected classroom (larger in size, used for the higher grade levels) will receive the small hubs. By purchasing and installing varying size hubs, the project budget can be minimized.
The project includes training from the teachers. While all teachers at the school indicate familiarity with the Internet (100% have connectivity at their homes), all express concern and lack of training in networking connectivity. The project includes two phases of training for the teachers. Phase 1 provides network training, troubleshooting, and maintenance. A second portion, Phase 2, provides the teachers with specialized training on how to effectively use the Internet into their teaching plans and curriculum.
Qualifications and Experience:
The selected vendor must qualify for the award of the contract. School board policy and state law requires for competitive bidding of contracts in excess of $10,000. Preliminary estimates received from four likely local vendors allow us to fix the budget at $20,500. This does not include any overrun from the likely final competitive bids.
Each qualifying vendor must provide proof of qualifications and experience of a project of this size. Since the majority of schools in this area have already been connected to the Internet, it is easy to find experienced vendors. We will require that the vendors provide skilled network technicians, providing proof that their staff includes software certified employees. These include MSCE (Microsoft Systems Certified Engineer) or CNE (Certified Network Engineer) designations.
Vendors that have not wired other schools - either private or public - will be disqualified. A component of the bid will be training. Many local vendors may not have the experience level desired for training the teachers. For this reason, several local educational consultants will be recommended to the networking and Internet connectivity vendors. It will be recommended that a partnership between the two parties be established, so one can provide the connectivity engineering, and the other can provide the necessary training. The purpose of using one vendor is for the coordination of the project completion. Training will be scheduled based upon the completion of the required engineering and connection. The training will be provided during one in-service training day (already scheduled) and a second day, not yet determined.