Glenbrook High School District 225 will begin sharing Internet services with two elementary school districts this year, a move that officials say will save the districts thousands of dollars a year and increase Internet capacity.
The initiative, the Northfield Township Technology Consortium, will allow the smaller districts to take advantage of District 225's wholesale pricing for bandwidth. Because of its size, the high school district pays a fraction of what elementary school districts pay - less than a dollar per megabyte per second, compared to about $15 per megabyte per second.
"For the elementary school districts, it means they get greatly reduced monthly expenses for bandwidth," said Marcus Thimm, district director of technology.
For the district, it means the high school district can "buy larger and larger quantities (of bandwidth) at lower and lower costs," he said.
Consortium members will be able to use the Village of Northbrook's fiber network to tap into District 225's network.
The founding members of the consortium are Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 and Northbrook School District 28. They will begin sharing services July 1. Other districts, such as Northbrook School District 27 and West Northfield School District 31, will likely come on board when their current contracts expire, Thimm said.
At a District 30 Board of Education meeting in March, Superintendent Ed Tivador described it as a "no brainer." The board expects to take action in April.
"Right now we're paying about $3,000 a month," he said. "This will reduce the cost to $500 and it will increase our bandwidth about sixfold."
Because District 30's offices are right next to Glenbrook North High School, the district can splice together its fiber with the high school's fiber without having to do any trenching or digging, officials said.
District 28, which will connect to the Village of Northbrook's fiber, expects to save about $1,000 a month and increase its bandwidth by about five times the current amount, said Sara Kladis, District 28 spokeswoman.
District 225 will serve as the lead agency, contracting with a service provider on behalf of the consortium, and will be reimbursed monthly by the other districts based on bandwidth use. The consortium is being formed under the federal E-rate program, which gives schools discounted rates for telecommunications and Internet services.
The district's Internet needs have been increasing dramatically each year, Thimm said. Students use laptops to access Google applications. Staff needs to access the human resources system and many services are stored in the network.
As the district buys more bandwidth, the cost per megabyte continues to get better, Thimm said, allowing for the sharing of its negotiating power with the elementary school districts.
"For us, the opportunity was really exciting," he said. "It's a really tangible opportunity to save community funds."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun