NORWALK, Conn. – A plan to delay buying new computers for Norwalk Public Schools in favor of beginning the project to install Wi-Fi was approved Tuesday evening by the Board of Education.
The switch was inspired by the city’s decision to give the board less money than it requested in the 2013-2014 capital budget. With a deadline looming in the transition to Common Core State Standards, school administrators said they felt that this was the best thing to do.
The board requested $2.7 million from the city in 2013-2014 capital budget funding but was only allocated $2.1 million. Eliminating the purchase of 511 computers this year – a purchase authorized in the 2012-2013 capital budget – frees up $300,000 to begin the $770,000 Wi-Fi installation. A surplus of $178,202 in capital funding from 2011-2012 will also go to the Wi-Fi project, which must be done by the end of the next school year.
The board will still buy 203 new computers. There are 4,000 computers in the district, Chief Operating Officer Elio Longo said.
Technology Director Robert Polselli played down the non-functioning computers in an email Wednesday.
“The numbers of computers that are non-working changes on a daily basis but all machines are repaired on a daily basis by technicians on 1 to 3 days (typically),” he said. “On any given day, we may have a few to a dozen, but the team repairs as reported. There are, however, machines that require upgrade and I’ll have a report run to determine that number.”
BOE Chairman Mike Lyons expressed regret at having to put off the purchases.
“What we continuously find ourselves trying to do here is get things done in a very tight funding environment,” he said. “We’re making tradeoffs here and we wish we didn’t have to tradeoff anything, but I think the wireless is the way of the future. … I think this is a good use of limited funds.”
The Wi-Fi is needed for the transition to Common Core State Standards, a state-mandated transition to a national benchmarks for educational standards, board members said at a recent meeting of the Finance Committee.