December 20, 2014

Charter Communications Saves School District Money

The Mehlville School District will save approximately $550,000 over the next five years by extending its contract for internet services with Charter Communications.

The school board approved the five-year extension Thursday with $110,616 in annual savings, according to Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch. The district is currently paying $239,616 a year for Charter’s services and will start paying $129,000 when the old contract expires in July 2012.

Charter installed a fiber network that provided one gigabyte of connectivity to 14 district buildings in 2002. The network provides internet and phone systems throughout the district.

Director of Information Technology Steven Lee said that the savings are because Charter has recouped their expenses on the fiber network installation.

“It did not make much sense to spend district money to do bids on this,” Superintendent Eric Knost said. “That would talk about running new fiber throughout the district; Charter owns the fiber that runs through our district. Other companies had already told us they wouldn’t bid because they couldn’t touch the price.”

The new contract provides a six gigabyte upgrade to the district and a one gigabyte upgraded system to the Jefferson Barracks maintenance building. Lee said the building has poor connectivity and frequently dropped phone calls.

The contract with Charter can also be adjusted based on the district’s new 1:1 technology pilot program, which gave laptops to students in two freshman Communication Arts classes.

“When we double or triple our number of devices… we have the option to go back and add to this. If we need to double up our connection speeds to Oakville High School, we can,” Lee said.

Knost said at least a portion of the savings would be reinvested into technology.

“If you compare that to what you pay at home right now, it’s probably 80 percent cheaper, in fact it’s less than 3 cents a day for every employee and (student). When you put it in that perspective, this really is a pretty good price,” board member Mark Stoner said at Thursday’s meeting.