Madison-Plains investing in tech upgrades and new buses

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(Posted March 22, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison-Plains Local Schools plans to invest in technology upgrades and new buses in the near future.

On March 15, the school board approved a plan to upgrade network equipment. The total cost of the project is $180,000. Federal E-Rate funds will cover 70 percent of the cost. The district will cover the other 30 percent ($53,000) with local permanent improvement funds.

The board also approved a plan to purchase new phone equipment for $27,000. Permanent improvement funds will cover the cost. The district has been leasing phones from its service provider; the cost for service and the equipment lease is $3,000 per month. By purchasing rather than leasing phones, the district will save $2,800 per month, according to Treasurer Todd Mustain.

“We will quickly recoup the cost of that equipment over nine or 10 months, and then, after that, we should realize a savings of between $25,000 and $30,000 per year,” he said.

For both the network upgrade and phone equipment, the district sought multiple bids, taking the lowest and best bids.

The district recently purchased more Chromebooks for $116,000. Emergency Connectivity funds covered the cost up-front. The district is waiting on reimbursement through federal E-Rate funds. The reimbursement will go into the local permanent improvements fund for use on other projects.

As for school buses, the district received $180,000 from the state to purchase four school buses. Each bus costs $110,000. The state funding will cover $45,000 per bus. The district will cover the other $65,000 per bus using permanent improvement funds.

The goal is to get on a purchasing cycle of two buses per year, Mustain said, adding that the district has been playing catchup for the past five years.

“We had a lot of old buses to replace all at once,” he explained.

The goal is to get to a point where no bus in the district’s fleet is more than 10 years old. If the state maintains its current funding level for buses, the district should be able to achieve the two-buses-per-year cycle. New buses should mean a savings in the general fund in the form of less gas and maintenance, Mustain added.

The school board approved a $62,000 increase in appropriations for the foodservice department. Mustain said the added costs were due to an increase in meal purchases and increased food costs related to supply chain issues. He anticipates that increases in federal reimbursements for foodservice will cover those increased costs.

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