The School Committee is meeting throughout the summer both independently and in joint sessions with the Fin Com/Advisory & BoS of each town in an effort to strategize on how to fund the District Capital & Technology expenses projected over the next five years.  I am trying to collect feedback to help me better make budgetary decisions. The results will be shared with school committee members at an open meeting and with the community.

If you would like to share your thoughts please click here:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PRTNNM9
Note I value Dunstable input as well and will be sending out a separate link to gather their info as well. 
The Technology & Capital Plans can be found on the GDRSD website and are a couple years in the making. The cost of itemized for each town can be found in the spread sheet attached.  I encourage those that have not read the actual plans as of yet to please do so as it does answer many questions such as what are the ages or life expectancy of items being repaired or replaced, do they function now, etc.  You can find them on this district web page:  http://gdrsd.org/departments/business/

School Committee portion of the meeting followed the joint meeting and it was brief but productive.  We approved the one-year lease renewal at Prescott with the Town of Groton.

The joint meeting was requested by the School Committee to continue our work through collaboration with both Dunstable and Groton leadership.  This evening we had our first meeting to discuss the School Committee approved Capital & Tech Plan with a desire to collaborate and strategize in funding those plans.  We will be meeting with the Groton BoS & Groton Fin Com hopefully in the Summer.

The plans can be seen at the GDRSD website.  http://gdrsd.org/departments/business/

For my readers that are accustom to me providing them in the blog here you go.   🙂

The large expense over the next five years is in FY19 is the phone and internet infrastructure for our District.  Currently, our District does not even have caller ID.  We witnessed how this affected our district when we received Robo call bomb threats, and all students were evacuated from schools.  There are various reasons why we need to update our phone and internet infrastructure, and they are all identified in the Strategic Technology Plan.  The SC highly encourages the community to take the time to read through the document, for those that want the bottom line reasons here is a passage from the tech plan.

        

“The adoption of various software and hardware district-wide has made Internet bandwidth a resource of primary importance. Loss of this service would seriously impact the day-to-day activities of students. While our uptime percentage has been remarkable, the throughput needed to support all the activity is sometimes strained, and demand keeps growing. There are times when performance is impacted or not steady. Further, this can occur at inopportune moments (e.g. classroom activities and online testing). 

“We can conclude, then, that bandwidth is the most significant impediment (i.e. bottleneck) to enhancing, enabling and expanding our use of technology and the implementation of VoIP. Our Internet service is currently provided by Verizon’s public FIOS service, which although is low cost, has drawbacks such as capped and unpredictable performance (i.e. speed is only “best effort” in either direction and never guaranteed). Additionally, the connection speed is not the same to all buildings.”

“Our legacy telephone system is outdated, obsolete and vulnerable. A strategic goal is to identify a replacement communication system. The current system requires expensive service to fix failures and difficult to find spare parts. Current leasing options using VoIP offer features and applications for no capital investment or expensive maintenance contracts. Our current infrastructure would need improvements to accommodate the new features a VoIP system will allow. When District administrators were asked to consider the most important hardware technology need in a September 2015 survey, an updated phone system was brought forward as a top priority. Funding for a district upgrade to VoIP would come out of a district telephone line item, not from a technology line item.  There are multiple phone systems in use around the district.  In general, they are antiquated and unreliable.  Teachers, for example, do not have universal voicemail access. The district needs to implement a single new system throughout that provides uniform modern functionality.” 

Beyond the outlining FY19 phone and internet infrastructure costs the approximate annual cost for the Capital & Technology Plan to each town is $415,000 for Groton and $140,000 to Dunstable.  The Capital & Technology expenses are one-time costs that can be funded in various ways.  

There are various ways a taxpayer can pay one time expenses that include but are not limited to, Free Cash at Fall/Spring Town Meetings, utilize a Capital Funds, Debt Exclusion, and an Override.

We have two member towns within our District, with different resources and funding mechanisms available to their taxpayers. It is up to individual taxpayers to communicate with your elected officials as to how they want to spend your tax dollars.  Reach out to them and let them know.

School Committee Contacts:  http://gdrsd.org/school-committee/

Groton BoS Contacts: http://townofgroton.org/Town/BoardsCommittees/BoardofSelectmen.aspx

Groton Fin Com Contacts: http://townofgroton.org/Town/BoardsCommittees/FinanceCommittee.aspx

Dunstable BoS & Advisory Contacts: http://www.dunstable-ma.gov/Pages/DunstableMA_WebDocs/Directory