LEMONT – Lemont residents and District 113A school board members alike recently expressed concern about district technology spending plans.
The board unanimously voted down a motion at a meeting June 5 to purchase 19 laptops for district office administration at an estimated cost of $35,000 in the final month of the fiscal year. The board instead decided to include the purchase in fiscal year 2014.
“I have no problem approving technology,” said board member Brian Bushnell. “But I'd like to know more.”
Board Secretary Patrick Kerrigan questioned the estimated price of the devices, at $1,800 per computer.
“It seems a little out of line,” he said.
District administrators specified that $35,000 is an estimate and that the final price is expected to be lower.
The administration recommended approving the purchase in 2013 because expenditures are less than anticipated and, after the board voted to amend the budget last month, the district is seeing a net revenue increase of $60,000 for the fiscal year.
The administrative computers are part of a larger five year, $1.5 million technology plan that includes establishing a device replacement cycle and purchasing network servers.
The average district student computer is a decade old, administrators said last month. The district estimated spending an average of approximately $333,000 per year on technology during the next five years.
The board approved the plan last month, but it is currently under review.
Currently district administration is considering using Heartland Business Systems, a technology support services and equipment company that offers competitive government pricing, to provide the majority of services in the technology plan.
The district has a pre-existing relationship with Heartland and does not intend to take the majority of technology services out to bid, although administrators will seek quotes from other service providers.
During public comment June 5, district parents Jenny and Nick Stricker voiced concern about the absence of bids to compete with Heartland. The Strickers said board policy requires competing bids for contracts of more than $25,000 and said Heartland's charges are too high.
“I think we might be best served as taxpayers if we look at an RFP,” said Nick.
Superintendent Susan Birkenmaier said the technology plan is among school code exemptions not required for bid.