By Tara Cavanaugh
Skyline High School still looks as shiny and new as the day it opened four years ago. Outside, modern steel beams crisscross over airy windows that stretch up its four floors. Inside, tall ceilings and natural light show off a pristine interior unblemished by time.
So why would Skyline be allocated any dollars from the Technology Bond if it passes?
The answer is simple, says John VanRiper, director of information technology for the Ann Arbor Public Schools. As the students transitioned into the new high school, so did old equipment from other schools.
“So the technology itself is, with few exceptions, as old as what we have in the rest of the district,” he says.
The library computer labs are full of eMacs that are five to six years old. The laptop carts are three years old or more. Two computer labs were supplied with new computers when the school opened, but now those are four years old.
According to district estimates, Skyline would receive $342,000 for new computers to replace the old ones if the bond passed. Only two more schools would receive more money for computers: Huron High School would get $390,100 and Pioneer High School would get $449,000.
Like the other schools, Skyline also would receive more than new computers.
“The wireless infrastructure at Skyline would be be upgraded to handle the load too, just as it would every place else,” VanRiper said. “That building for the most part has building wide coverage…But they’re not capable of handling the load. That’s the issue we’re having now–and throughout the district.”
By upgrading “wireless infrastructure,” VanRiper means replacing the cables and servers that deliver wireless internet. Those will be updated, and so will the storage rooms that hold that equipment.
But because Skyline is such a new building, cabling and renovations won’t cost nearly as much. If the tech bond passes, the district would spend $23,900 on Skyline to update cabling. Only one other school would cost less in cabling work: the much smaller Preschool and Family Center.
And Skyline’s estimated cost for mechanical and electrical renovations is around $32,000, which is much less than an old building like Pioneer, which would need nearly $122,000 for the work.
“(Skyline) is a brand new building. Gorgeous building,” VanRiper says. “But it has a significant amount of aging technology in place that was transferred from other high schools and the wireless infrastructure will be upgraded too, just like every other school.”
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