Schools plan to upgrade technology

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales school district representatives are looking forward to an upgrade of the school’s technology in the way of improved phone lines, improved connectivity and faster Internet downloads with the help of the Yucca Telecommunications’ recently announced fiber-optic project.

Randy Fowler, Portales School District superintendent, and school board members discussed the advantages with Mike Rackler, director of technology, during Wednesday’s school board meeting.

Yucca Telecom representatives will be starting an $11.3 million project in the next 30 days to install a fiber optic network throughout Portales and it will take one year to complete. Rackler said Yucca Telecom provides phone and Internet service to the Portales schools. The project will bring high-speed Internet, which will be a big benefit for teachers of the online courses, which depend a lot on downloading, according to Rackler.

“It will provide faster download and increase the capacity of the pipeline into the system,” Rackler said. “It’s about having the best use of money for the kids.”

It’s also a benefit to online students who work from their computers at home and are logged into the school’s network. Faster download times, means being able to complete online classwork faster. Rackler said the fiber-optic project will increase the capacity of the school’s network, allowing for more people to be connected at once without slowing down the network.

“We are partners with Yucca in the increased pipeline,” Rackler said. “We’re glad to have them as partners. If it wasn’t for their help, none of this (technical upgrades in network) would be possible.”

Rackler said Portales School District officials will be part of the committee which will discuss the planning and scope of work for the project with Yucca Telecomm. It will be an improvement in the speed and amount of information the fiber optic network can provide.

• School board members unanimously approved postponing a contract with Mike Miller until the Nov. 14 school board meeting. The contract is for Miller to be lobbyist for the school district for the upcoming year. Miller lobbies to help bring funding to the school district through capital outlay from the New Mexico State Legislature.

Rod Savage, school board member, said he likes Miller’s approach and the results, but would like to see an expansion of Miller’s duties to include other goals, besides capital outlay, which affect the school district.

Savage used, as an example, a resolution from the New Mexico State School Board in which wa approved to influence how teacher terminations are handled, where Miller could have been involved at the state school board level. School board members would like for Fowler to discuss this possibility with Miller.

• Rackler announced the Portales School District enrollment is at 2,895 students as of Wednesday. Fowler said the enrollment is up seven students from the same time last year.