Newton school board still considering network relocation

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education should have enough information by next month to make a decision to upgrade or move its network operations center because of current hazardous conditions.

Last month, Dr. Gary Shattuck, director of Technology & Media Services at NCSS, told the school board about possible dangers in the center. Over the years, the required equipment has outgrown its space. Due to the overcrowded space and insufficient air conditioning system servicing the room, it also poses a potential system failure.

Earlier this month in a special called meeting, Shattuck presented the school board with various options to improve the space or relocate it.

Jordan and Skala Engineers Inc. recently conducted an analysis for a fee of $4,575 to devise a plan for the current center, which is located at the Newton County BOE building on Newton Drive.

Option one would connect the emergency generator to existing HVAC equipment for a cost of $4,000. This would not provide additional HVAC equipment or replace the current equipment, which is innappropriate for the current room, according to Tim Milam of the engineering company.

"If nothing, there is a risk of another power outage," Milam said.

Option two would protect the center from utility power outage and equipment failure.

The $175,000 project would install a new data room quality AC unit on the third floor of the BOE building and an associated condensing unit outside of the building. It also calls for replacing the existing emergency generator with a larger unit, Milam said.

A third option would increase the reliability of the data room cooling and allow for growth of the center.

The $450,000 project would convert the adjacent conference room into an extension of the current data center. It calls for the installation of two AC units on the third floor of the BOE building and condensing units outside of the building, and it also would provide for a backup battery system and replace the existing emergency generator with a larger unit, Milam said.

Shattuck said he would be concerned with the extra weight placed on the second and third floors of the school board building. He planned to discuss the concern with building architects.

The fourth option, which Shattuck had previously proposed to the school board, would have the center relocated to the basement of the Newton College and Career Academy, which is expected to open in January.

The project would cost $590,000, according to estimates, and would increase reliability and safety of equipment in the data center because it is below ground level and surrounded by steel-reinforced concrete walls and ceiling, Shattuck said. It also would allow for growth.

It would provide for dual AC units, a cool and hot aisle design, a battery backup system and other upgrades.

Shattuck planned to get the engineering company to work up a more detailed assessment and cost analysis on the fourth option, as requested by school board members, and bring them a more detailed plan during the board's November meetings.

Shattuck is expecting to fund the project with nearly $1.2 million in federal reimbursements that NCSS is expecting to receive this year and next year. The school board already approved the technology department to spend about $500,000 of the federal funding on necessary technology upgrades at some NCSS schools.

The remaining federal funding could be added to the NCSS general fund.