The Jefferson Parish School Board plans to sell $27.5 million in bonds next month to pay for an upgrade of the wireless network used by its schools. It’s the final portion of a $50 million package dedicated to upgrading the technological capabilities of the school system.
The board’s Executive Committee was scheduled to discuss the upgrade Tuesday evening. The current timeline would have the funds in place by the end of May, though it’s not clear when the work would be completed.
The upgrade will bring the wireless system used by teachers and students up to date, increasing its speed and eliminating issues of spotty coverage from classroom to classroom.
“The project is based on the belief that, as education and assessment become increasingly digital, the district must ensure that all students have equal access to the district’s wireless network,” said Tina Chong, a spokeswoman for the school system.
The wireless upgrade will complete the system’s Technology Upgrade Plan, the last finished installment of which was $7.5 million in 2014 to install security fences and cameras at schools.
The district will recoup $7 million of the cost of the wireless upgrade through a federal program called E-Rate.
Last week, the board voted to ask the State Bond Commission to authorize it to sell another $50 million in bonds to put toward capital improvement projects at schools. The action would allow the board to sell that amount in installments as specific projects are selected.
The board has a list of $128 million in repairs, renovations and construction projects, with a higher priority placed on those that address life-safety issues and ensure code compliance and a lower priority for projects that merely improve a facility’s appearance or convenience.
All the bonds are backed by an existing half-cent sales tax.
The system’s annual cost for debt service is scheduled to drop from $12 million to $8 million in the next two years as some previous projects are paid off, allowing the board to take on new debt while still keeping its total obligation at the current level.
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