At its meeting Monday night, Feb. 20, the New Richmond School Board approved a recommendation to replace the district’s storage area network and host servers at a cost of $159,237.
The host servers run all of the district’s virtual machine servers while the storage area networkis responsible for storing all of the data for those servers.
Kris Brown, district director of fiscal and building operations, explained the current storage area network and servers will reach the end of their support on July 1.
“Basically the servers that run all of our systems internally including our storage are in need of replacement. I had this conversation with my team last year, and we pushed it out a year to this summer because that is the best time for us to make this change,” Brown said.
The contract with Capital Data provides the necessary hardware and software and includes cross training for staff on the new equipment, assisting with the virtual machine migration process and five additional years of support.
According to Brown, all of the district’s most sensitive data including financial and personnel information is stored securely off site.
As part of the planned overhaul, the district is locating new servers in the middle school to provide redundant backup to the primary servers located at the high school.
“Most of the time you aren't worried about a natural disaster occurring like a tornado hitting something. Although that’s bad, we have a plan for that. What’s more likely to happen is you have an equipment fail or a fire occurs in the room especially because these units get really hot,” Brown said.
Having local backup minimizes downtime if something fails or there is a fire. The district's goal is to limit it to less than a day.
The district has been anticipating this expense and included it in the budget.
Brown reported that the district is starting to pay a significant amount in fees associated with processing online payment options (credit cards, ACH, e-checks) for numerous school expenses including Tiger Pack, athletic events, school lunches, facility rentals, and other school activities.
“We are taking on significant fees for our families. The question before the board is do we want to continue with that as a practice or do we want to go to a more cost effective method
for the school district and pass on those convenience charges to the user?” Brown asked.
Those fees are not directly accounted for in the budget and end up coming out of the bottomline for those programs.
Brown used the Tiger Pack as an example. The program budget last year was between $500,000 and $600,000. Transaction fees accounted for $30,000 which comes out of that program's revenues.
Those fees represent money that could be used to pay for staffing or other more beneficial expenditures.
Brown warned those fees are likely to climb as the district opens up the online option to pay for school and class fees.
Board members will need to decide whether this requires a policy decision going forward.
State budget update
Gov. Tony Ever’s presented his 23-25 biennial budget to the state legislature on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
Brown provided board members with a few highlights from the governor’s proposed budget for education and how it could impact the New Richmond School District specifically.
Ever’s proposed 23-25 biennial budget has yet to be negotiated with state legislators. A final budget is expected to be presented to the governor by the Joint Finance Committee sometime this summer.
$1 billion over the biennium through the state’s general equalization aid formula, which
is the second largest proposed direct investment in state general aids since the 1995-97
A more than $1 billion increase in special education aid over the biennium, which would
increase reimbursement rates to 60 percent in both years of the biennium.
A low revenue ceiling increase of $450 per pupil in FY 2023-24 and an additional $750
per pupil in fiscal year 2024-25, increasing revenue limit equity among school districts. New Richmond is a low-revenue ceiling district.
A per pupil aid investment of $46.5 million over the biennium, resulting in a $24 per
pupil increase in FY 2023-24 and an additional $45 per pupil in fiscal year 2024-25.
Providing a more than $1 billion investment in special education aid, reaching 60 percent
in both years of the biennium and going beyond his fall proposal with a historic and critical investment of $491.4 million in fiscal year 2023-24 and $521.7 million in 2024-25.
Investing $1.6 million in fiscal year 2023-24 and $5.9 million in 2024-25 to increase high- cost special education reimbursements, increasing the reimbursement rate from around 30 percent today to 60 percent at the end of the biennium.
According to Brown, the low revenue increase alone would provide the district with more than $1.6 million worth of usable dollars to balance the district’s budget in the first year of the biennium and over $2.7 million in the second.
“If the governor’s proposal as it was presented came through for us and many schools across the state, I believe that we would be in a great position to weather the fiscal cliff that’s coming when the ESSER funding runs out. I believe that anything less than that will leave us in a situation that is less than ideal,” Brown said. “If you can advocate, now is the time.”
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