COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education will wait until later this month to decide on what technology projects it will fund this year.
In June, Dr. Gary Shattuck, director of Technology & Media Services at the Newton County School System, and NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews asked the board to approve a bid for the construction of a network operations center at the Newton College & Career Academy, as well as upgrades to technology at several schools.
In September, Shattuck told the board of his idea to relocate the operations center, which contains the system's servers, data storage and other equipment and is currently housed at the Newton County BOE building on Newton Drive in Covington.
Several times the data room has overheated or had problems that required the work of the system's technology department, and Shattuck fears that its current location is hazardous. He feels that the center being moved to the basement of the Academy would be a safer place for the equipment because of more room and cooler temperatures; a redesigned setup also would help the hazardous situation.
The low bid to construct the new center is $654,148 from Bon Building Services out of Conyers; last year, Shattuck had received an estimate that it would cost about up to $590,000.
Shattuck said that although the bid was "a lot higher" than he expected, he felt the low bid was a fair price since it was a competitive process with five bids being received earlier this month.
The project would be funded through nearly $1.2 million in federal technology reimbursements that NCSS is expected to receive this year.
The federal reimbursements also funded upgrades to technology at the Newton County Theme School and Cousins Middle School and work is underway at Eastside High School.
Shattuck also wants to upgrade technology at East Newton, Mansfield, Oak Hill, Fairview and Rocky Plains elementary Schools, Indian Creek and Veterans Memorial middle schools and Alcovy High School.
He told the board that if the construction project was approved, as well as all technology upgrades, it would cost the system more than $25,000 to supplement the projects. He noted that the funding could come from the capital projects account, which can only fund building and technology upgrades, instead of the general fund.
Shattuck added that he would prefer to complete the projects now because there is a likelihood of NCSS not receiving the federal funding in the future.
The board decided to table their decision until their July meeting. It is scheduled to meet for a combined monthly work session and meeting at 7 p.m. July 17 in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive in Covington.