The Lafayette Parish School System’s Internet service provider, the city-owned Lafayette Utilities System, received a second shot at continuing its business with the school system following the School Board’s intervention last week.
The school system had issued a call for proposals for Internet services that followed federal requirements to receive services at a deeply discounted price, and three companies responded. LUS, which has provided the services for the past 10 years, wasn’t one of those that responded.
School Board member Erick Knezek questioned the clarity of the advertisement and competitiveness of the selection process at the board meeting on Feb. 4, when the board was asked to approve a five-year contract with a new service provider based on a committee’s evaluation of the proposals.
The cost of services is more than $600,000 annually, though the school system only has to cover about $170,000 a year, with the assistance of the federal discount program available to public schools, the school system’s technology director LaShona Dickerson explained to the board Feb. 4.
Because the school system didn’t receive a proposal from its current provider, LUS, it used rates in the existing contract and compared it to the other three submissions from Cox Communications, Detel and Hunt Communications.
Based on the committee’s evaluation, Detel’s proposal outranked the other submissions and it was recommended as the new provider for the board’s approval during the Feb. 4 meeting.
A representative from Detel said Tuesday that the company would submit an emailed statement in response to The Acadiana Advocate’s request for comment about the board’s decision and process, though no response was received as of Tuesday evening.
Each proposal was ranked in four areas: price of services counted as 40 percent of the score; quality of service and support was 35 percent; years of experience in service was 15 percent; and prior experience with the district was 10 percent.
Detel scored 96.25 percent, followed by Hunt at 65.25, Cox at 60 and LUS at 47.
Terry Huval, LUS director, said Tuesday that there were changes in the timeline for the typical application process that LUS officials weren’t aware of until it was too late to submit a proposal. He said the school system’s use of existing contract rates with LUS as a sort of proposal submission didn’t accurately represent what the company could offer the school system.
“Cost of Internet for bulk purchases like the school system is purchasing has come down over the years,” Huval said. “The price they used was old pricing that was high as compared to what the pricing is now.”
The new request for services was expected to go out Wednesday, Dickerson said in an email response.
Dickerson said the board will meet the March 26 deadline to ensure that the school district will still qualify for discounted services.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.