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HILLSVILLE — All Carroll schools will have comparable Internet and network connectivity, after three schools get up to speed with improvements.
The Carroll County School Board last year decided to upgrade to fiber optics from what they said were unreliable wireless connections and accepted proposals for other schools sites.
But Laurel, Oakland and St. Paul schools had more difficult circumstances, so educators decided bid them out again to get them all faster networking capabilities.
School board members, at their Feb. 8 meeting, accepted bids from CenturyLink.
Educators brought back the same advisory committee to make a recommendation on this proposal, just like they did for the first round, Assistant Superintendent Strader Blankenship said at the school board meeting.
The committee included principals, technical staff, school employees and a parent.
The bid opening Feb. 3 found submissions from both CenturyLink ($46,740) and The Wired Road/NationsLine ($53,100).
"Both companies bid 100 megabit connections to all three sites, which means, when this is all over with, all of our sites will have equal access," Blankenship told the school board.
Were these prices in line with the first set of bids, School Board Member Robert Utz asked.
"No, it's a little more expensive because they had to build out to the sites — one was a 12-mile build-out..." the assistant superintendent said.
Due to the work needed, there will be more of a lag time in getting these remaining three schools connected, he added. The company will have 90 days from the signing of the contract to get the necessary work done to bring these schools online.
Can that be done by the Virginia Standards of Learning test dates, Chairman Franklin Jett asked. (SOL testing has moved online.)
"We are going to stress that point," Blankenship answered, but it will be close.
The second week of May is the target start-up date, schools Superintendent Greg Smith added.
St. Paul school shouldn't take that long to get connected, School Board Member Phillip Berrier noted.
There's no build-out there, Smith agreed.
Berrier made a motion to approve the recommendation of CenturyLink, noting that it would put all schools on equal footing for networking.
The motion was approved unanimously after a second from Utz.