This Isn’t Your Grandparents’ School
By Christian Baker and Dennison Winchell
Twenty years ago, the need for technology infrastructure in facilities
construction was almost an afterthought. We all have seen a shift over
the past two decades with the need for technology considerations during
facilities conversations and planning. In current times, there are still facilities projects
that happen throughout the state which do not consider the ever-increasing impact
of technology on the education system. Those districts that have been at the
forefront of planning for technology infrastructure often do not plan alone. The
increase in the use of technology design consultants has increased the efficiency of
the planning by the most innovative districts.
Growth and considerations for future technologies present challenges to each
entity when working to plan and budget a facilities project. Attempting to project
the next cutting-edge impact technology or simply implementing additional cabling
have been frustrating for anyone who has gone through the process of construction.
This could either be through new facility construction or retrofitting hundred-yearold
structures. In this case, difficulty cannot deter the conversation from happening
at the local, regional, statewide, or national levels. The conversation of technology
inclusion within facilities must remain a focal point for all stakeholders.
It would be difficult to name a system within a school that is not network based.
Everything ranging from phone systems, paging and intercom, HVAC, irrigation,
mass notification and even lighting systems now run on networks. This also
includes the need for robust wireless connectivity, the ability to accommodate
increasing internet speeds, and one-to-one programs that assist educators and staff in
attaining the increased curricular rigor. These increased network demands need to
be accounted for when designing district infrastructure.
Let us not forget the increasing demand on the networks for fire, security
cameras, campus, wireless communications, and visitor management. The
unfortunate need for ever increasing safety measures for schools has added
considerable strain to aging infrastructure throughout the state. But there may be
some facilities hope on the horizon.
The Governor's recently released budget includes plans to sell $1.5 billion in
general obligation bonds for the State Facility Program (SFP) and add another
$750 million to the Full-Day Kindergarten School Facilities Program. This past
November’s elections saw the approval of over $9 billion in local bonds for
additional funding to districts statewide. Let us not forget the potential E-Rate
funding may play in possible technology planning for eligible services within
Given the amount of dollars going into new construction of school facilities, it is
imperative that districts consider the need for technology infrastructure to support
all facets of the education community they represent. The need for technology
planning must be done in the early stages of any project to eliminate costly mistakes
or oversights. Technology infrastructure does not just include the need for
classroom technology, but also the security of all school constituents and the ability
to process the data attained to drive the school’s focus on improving instruction