FORT SMITH — The Fort Smith School Board has approved a professional services agreement with Crux Technology and Security Solutions Inc.
The agreement with the firm, which has offices in Fort Worth and Tulsa, states that the school district wishes to engage Crux for technology professional services to help with evaluating options for providing internet access to students at home, as well as other technology issues.
The coronavirus pandemic has required the school district to utilize technology in “unprecedented ways” to provide services to both students and the community, according to an abstract included in the meeting’s agenda packet.
“Continued planning and research are needed to identify a feasible, longterm solution for student internet access,” the outline states. “An independent assessment is also needed in the coming year of the district’s data center at the Rogers Center.”
These projects are projected to cost $15,000, the abstract states. The agreement will allow the district to pursue these projects and, on an as-needed basis, secure professional guidance on other technology issues that may come about.
The School Board authorized Superintendent Doug Brubaker to negotiate and execute a contract to conduct a separate feasibility study for an LTE 4G network for the district at a cost not to exceed $30,000 during a called meeting June 1.
“This is … separate, but it’s complimentary in that once we have that feasibility study, that’s going to be part of the things that we put in [a request for proposal] out to bid to say, ‘Vendors, develop a solution for Fort Smith that’s cost- effective,’ and then we look at those different options and bring you the best one,” Brubaker said. “So they dovetail, but it’s not an overlap of work.”
Brubaker said the school district also needs help to determine if the Rogers Center should continue to house some of its most sensitive equipment in the long term, or if it should try to find another home for it, and, if so, how much that would cost.
An abstract included in the agenda packet for the June 1 meeting stated that the district conducted a survey indicating that 22% of elementary students and 4% of secondary students do not have home internet access, although these results may not reflect access through friends and family members, the district’s Park and Learn initiative and other public access programs. The survey also shows that 18% of elementary staff members in the school district and 15% of secondary staff members do not have home internet access.
The board approved allowing the purchasing of up to 2,500 LTE modems, or hot spots, and related services using the most cost-effective vendor, and to then proceed with executing a contract in a form approved by the district’s legal counsel during its May 18 meeting, according to the minutes of that meeting.