Brandywine Heights School Board voted to outsource the district’s technology support and replace the network Monday night.
Board members approved administration enter into a three-year agreement for information technology support with Higher Information Group, LLC., of Harrisburg, effective Aug. 1. In the same vote, the board approved administration enter into a five-year lease agreement with JGF Funding, LLC., Harrisburg, which is affiliated with HIG. The lease is for technology equipment to support the Information Support Agreement at a monthly cost of $4,186.01, plus additional fees.
Nancy Krauss, Brandywine Business Administrator, anticipates that the district will save a minimum of $25,000 by the end of the 2012-13 school year.
John Frisch, president of HIG, presented the proposal with information and a cost analysis to the board on Monday night. The plan is to revamp the network in August prior to the start of school, replacing server equipment with state-of-the-art Cysco equipment, increasing efficiency and security on the network, decreasing redundancy, and increasing efficiency on the wireless network. Once HIG technicians replace the infrastructure, HIG will provide technology support. HIG will hire Brandywine’s two technology support employees, who will remain on site. Any additional staffing needs will be provided by HIG.
Any current hardware of value will be sold or re-purposed, according to HIG representatives.
Several board members had the opportunity to tour the HIG facility prior to the meeting.
“It was a very impressive operation,” said board member Bryan Rothermel. “We have the chance to tap into a very broad area of expertise.”
Rothermel noted that technology is a challenging and broad world to wrap their arms around.
“It’s done best as a team of experts,” he said.
Rothermel also pointed out that, from his research talking to others in the IT field, the equipment is good with plenty of storage and room to expand on the servers. He also said the district would be paying for a portion of a group of experts when needed, which he believes is cost effective.
Board member Elizabeth Huhn feels comfortable with HIG as a provider. She also saw this as an opportunity to save the district money while having access to technology expertise.
“We don’t know what we don’t know about technology,” she said, noting that they shouldn’t have to be experts in technology, their focus is on education.
Board member John Sheetz, board vice president, agreed with Huhn, that they are experts on education, not technology.
Sheetz also said that the equipment is top of the line and that HIG staff seemed very interested in helping the district as a customer.
“I think this is the way to go,” he said.
He also saw this as an opportunity for possible career advancement for Brandywine’s two technology support employees.
Superintendent Dr. Martin Handler was also in favor of the agreement.
Last week, he said there was a system failure.
“When you rely on a single person, it is a dangerous thing,” said Handler.
He also noted the fast growing progress of technology.
“A single individual cannot keep up, you’d have to have a pretty broad (range of) expertise to keep up,” he said.
HIG has 16 information technology staff members with a broad range of expertise.
The information sourcing company’s services include business equipment, IT services, corporate printing, document management, hosting solutions, document storage and shredding services.
Frisch, who noted that HIG is 100 percent owned by him, explained that HIG will be putting into a new infrastructure that will allow them to be proactive rather than fixing things when they’re broken.
Also, computers will be switched to Windows7 and email will be changed to Exchange. About 50 access points in the district’s three buildings will provide improved wireless access.
“We’re good at what we don,” said Frisch. “We work for you. The reason we grow is because we take care of you. We’re here as a partner to help you grow.”
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