Witt-Birn OKs Wi-Fi, interactive board purchases

Technology purchases will improve Wi-Fi, allow teachers to fully utilize curriculum
Luke Reimer

The Wittenberg-Birnamwood School Board approved a purchase for six New View sonic boards during its meeting on May 23.

The new boards will help to replace projectors in the district that have become old and worn, according to Technology Director Matt Heindel.

“A lot of our classroom display technology across all of the buildings is really getting aged,” said Heindel. “I would guess ten years old at least. So, we are looking to at least try and start with this new situation — it is an interactive board.”

Heindel said that the new boards would be able to take up to 40 touches at the same time.

“The little kids would be able to play games on there and whatnot,” said Heindel. “They are a lot more clear and a lot more bright, so it brings us into the 21st century.”

He added that with the equipment that is in place now, if the district were to replace it using the same system it would come out to about $1,500 per classroom.

“This $2,000 (per classroom) is not really a significant jump and we are going to start with a little roll out in the Wittenberg Elementary/Middle School,” said Heindel.

The roll out would begin with six boards, totalling $11,994, in the Wittenberg Elementary-Middle School.

“We currently have four of these boards, two of them in Wittenberg and two of them in Birnamwood that are available for teachers to check out,” said Heindel.

He also noted that the boards usually go for $4,500 a piece, but will be $2,000 a piece for the school district.

Wittenberg Elementary-Middle School Principal Nick Firari added that the curriculum that is in place in the district does allow interactive learning online. With only two boards that can support those features though, Firari said that adding more boards will help to fully utilize that curriculum.

“It is something that will really benefit our teachers moving forward,” said Firari.

In a related story, the board also approved a purchase to upgrade the wireless internet throughout the district.

“Our current wireless infrastructure has different models and equipment and everything in regards to how old it is, but long story short, our back end controllers are 12 years old,” said Heindel. “I don’t know if you can imagine the internet 12 years ago, but it is way different than it is now.”

Heindel relayed information from students and staff saying that they have experienced drops or slowness in the wireless internet around the buildings.

“We were able to secure e-rate federal funding, in which they cover 70% of the cost, so the total cost of a whole new Wi-Fi infrastructure across all three buildings is $86,790,” said Heindel. “To get a whole new system, we would only have to pay $27,157.”

Depending on shipping time, Heindel said he hopes to have the new wireless infrastructure installed by the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

“Me and my helper will be able to do it — there are little white boxes that go on the ceiling and there are about 100 of them,” said Heindel. “There is 87 now, so we got a couple extra to cover some dead spots.”