Archive for Wednesday, December 18, 2013

De Soto students one step closer to bring-your-own-device

December 18, 2013

De Soto students wishing to use their own electronic devices in class are one step closer after the De Soto school board, ending a contentious, months-long debate, voted to approve the purchase of wireless access points and licenses.

Last week, the board approved a bid from K12itc, which manages technology in the district, for the purchase of 250 wireless access points and 250 licenses for those access points totaling $298,742.50. The district will only pay $143,546.56, however, because the purchase came with a credit from K12itc for $155,195.94. Brad Sandt, president of K12itc, said the credit was given to the district because it had completed all three purchasing phases of the BYOD plan, including the more than $920,000 in equipment it purchased in October for the bring-your-own-device approach. That equipment comprising phases one and two of the plan was purchased without a formal bid process, igniting the debate.

“That is essentially a volume discount,” Sandt explained. On Dec. 9, the board also received a rebate check from K12itc for more than $57,000, or 4 percent of the list price of the Cisco Meraki equipment purchased in October.

The credit and rebate were at the heart of more heated disagreements last week among the board, with some board members contending that the rebate and credit had never been brought up until now and others arguing that, actually, receiving money back from the main BYOD purchase had been a part of discussions from the beginning.

Bill Fletcher was on the side of believing not enough notice had been given about the rebate and credit, saying that board members only found out they would be getting a rebate last month, at the November school board meeting. He said he also had no idea until the day of the Dec. 9 meeting that the $155,195.94 credit was only contingent on the board approving the bid for the access points and licenses with K12itc.

“It’s like I was blackmailed,” Fletcher said. “It’s sort of like a threat that if we don’t go ahead with this last little bid, we won’t get our $155,000.”

Board member Scott Hancock agreed with Fletcher that no prior notice had been given about rebates.

“(Rebates) are a pretty important part of the bid process, and I’ve never seen that communicated anywhere in the minutes,” Hancock said. “When I’m asked to make decisions, financial or any other decision, I want to know the variables.”

But board member Angela Handy countered that potential rebates had indeed been discussed.

“I know that way back when we started talking about this, it was always that … whatever the rebates (K12itc) got, they were going to come back to us,” she said.

Sandt said “multiple conversations” had taken place with district administrators and board members about possible rebates and discounts beginning back in August.

Fletcher made a first motion to reject the bid from K12itc and turn it over to the district’s attorney to review whether any mistake had been made. That motion died, however, without any second from another board member.

A motion then was made by board president Mitch Powers to approve the purchase with the credit. The board voted 6-1, with Fletcher opposed. Board member Tim Blankenship was absent from the meeting.

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