Measure S Bond Update: Technology Focus Preps BUSD For 21st Century

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

By Lisa Paredes


Since the voter passage of the Measure S Bond to support infrastructure fixes at Burbank Unified schools, a number of projects have already been completed and more are in the works. The $110 million dollar bond has been divided into three three-year issuances, with each bond issuance totaling about one-third of $110 million. Periodically, will look at various aspects of the Measure S Bond and the effect on Burbank’s schools, city and community.

The voter-approved Measure S Bond’s first allotment of funds has been divided between school facilities updates and fixes and the school technology department’s development of infrastructure necessary for bringing BUSD into the 21st Century. While the second allotment of bond money will build out school site infrastructure, the classroom implementation of contemporary technology and the district’s computer refresh program, the first allotment of funds applied to technology will fund the building of the district’s new Data Center along with the placement of wiring and necessary infrastructure to carry the tech needs at all the school sites.

As of Tuesday, November 26, BUSD and City of Burbank officials continue to discuss the possibility of the City hosting the Data Center needs of the school district for a reasonable fee. This new discussion would eliminate the need to spend money to build a Data Center, which had recently been approved.

BUSD has been developing plans to build the Data Center inside the District Service Center on S. Shelton St., but they have asked the architects to hold off while the feasibility of the City hosting the Data Center is examined. The room design has been going through the architectural planning stage, with the size estimated to be about 400 – 500 square feet. Additional space would be required to cool down the room.

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“The budget for the Data Center will not eat up the technology portion of the first issuance of the bond,” commented Charles Poovakan, Director of Information Technology and Educational Support for Burbank Unified, even if a Data Center on BUSD grounds is determined to be the best way to move forward. “The Data Center will house the District’s main networking equipment, servers and storage. We have over 40 servers district-wide at the 19 school sites; some running in unfavorable environments.”

Those servers will all eventually be relocated to the new Data Center. While the ability to turn off parts of the network does not yet exist, remote services are a big part of the planned central control functions of the Data Center. Technicians will be able to monitor network traffic flow, equipment in the classrooms such as computers and projectors and be able to turn off certain parts of the network at night or when not in use to conserve electricity.

“One important focus in the building of this Data Center is efficiency,” added Mr. Poovakan. “Most data centers use a direct expansion (DX) or chilled water system. We are looking to make the outside air part of our cooling system. The idea is that when the outside air is cool enough, it can be used to cool down the servers.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The plan is for Data Center infrastructure to be put in place first and then upgrade components at the school sites. The Data Center will provide the capability for streaming educational material to classrooms. While some content may be free, most content would have to be paid for, so it’s unclear how much streaming services can be utilized.

BUSD is holding off on most new purchases of equipment unless they are deemed urgent or instrumental to instruction until the Data Center is up and running, which is anticipated to happen within the next few years. BUSD is looking at purchasing mobile learning tablets or devices during the third issuance of the bond.

“However, as technology is changing at such a rapid pace, there could be some consideration given to moving it to the second issuance of bonds,” added Mr. Poovakan. “This, however, is dependent on how affordable mobile devices become in the near future, in comparison to the cost of paper textbooks versus electronic textbooks.”

Measure S bond money will fund the majority of BUSD’s technology infrastructure, including data cabling, network equipment and wireless connectivity. Burbank residents are welcome at any of the meetings of the School Facilities Oversight Committee, which oversees the construction proposals, budgets and schedules to make sure all proposed projects are completed on schedule and on budget. Meeting dates, agendas and exhibits are all posted on the BUSD website.

“Members of the public may also attend the District’s monthly Technology Task Force Committee meetings, as which Measure S tech issues are also discussed,”  commented Mr. Poovakan. These meetings are held monthly in the District Office Board Room. For more information about the times and dates of the Technology Task Force meetings, contact Instructional Services at 818-729-4401.