Mt. Lebanon School District is receiving a technology upgrade.
The school board on Monday approved data network and telephone system improvements throughout the district, along with the purchase of new phone and network equipment as part of the high school renovation project. The total cost is about $723,000, plus labor.
The current equipment is more than 10 years old, said Chris Stengel, director of technology.
Among the benefits of the upgrade is a significant increase in bandwidth, the maximum data transfer rate in a network connection. The increase will allow for better multimedia streaming for use in classroom instruction, Mr. Stengel said.
The phone system will be improved to carry transmissions through the data network using voice over Internet protocol services, a measure to help ensure connectivity.
Mr. Stengel estimated labor costs at $18,000, saying Mt. Lebanon staff members will do much of the work to configure the system as the project is phased in over the next three-plus years.
The labor is bid through the state Department of General Services' Invitation to Qualify program, which awards contracts on a best-value basis.
Similarly, the equipment and upgrades come through the Pennsylvania Education Purchasing Program for Microcomputers. PEPPM awarded the contract to Dagostino Electronic Services Inc. of Pittsburgh, one of three companies that submitted bids.
"This is the newest product line that they're offering," he said during last week's school board discussion meeting.
Mr. Stengel said the vendor offered a 25 percent discount on the districtwide upgrade if purchased before Dec. 31. The resulting savings for that portion of the project is about $31,000.
The bulk of the project cost, nearly $631,000, is for the new equipment at the high school.
Resident Michael Babich of Duquesne Drive raised concerns during Monday's meeting about the viability of the new system.
"We may be buying short-term technologies that are going to last a few years," he said.
Elaine Cappucci, board president, suggested he address specific questions to be answered by the district.
Also during Monday's meeting:
• The board withdrew the district from participation in the Parkway West Center for Alternative Education.
Most of the other member districts already had withdrawn. An official vote on closing the center will take place in January.
The school will continue to function through the remainder of the 2012-13 school year. Mt. Lebanon has five students enrolled.
• Superintendent Timothy Steinhauer said administrators have been reviewing the Investigations elementary mathematics curriculum following concerns raised by some parents about its effectiveness.
The district recently hosted math education nights at its elementary buildings, providing parents with an opportunity to learn more about the curriculum and provide feedback. The information received has been used as a basis for a "frequently asked questions" summary posted on the website for each of the seven elementary schools.
Harry Funk, freelance writer; firstname.lastname@example.org.