Mehlville school board to consider five-year pact with network provider

Board decided in November to seek extension of contract

By Kari Williams

A recommendation to approve a five-year contract with the Mehlville School District’s network provider — Charter Communications — is scheduled to be considered by the Board of Education when it meets today — Feb. 9.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Administration Building, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.

Director of Information Technology Services Steven Lee recommends the board allow district administrators to enter into the five-year contract with Charter “for 6-gigabit service to the Administration Data Center and 14 sites at 1-gigabit service, including Jefferson Barracks, at an estimated cost of $129,000 per year.”

Charter has been the district’s network provider for 10 years, and the company owns the fiber that runs through the district.

The Board of Education voted in November 2001 to enter into a 10-year lease with Charter for a managed fiber network that provided 1 gigabyte of connectivity to 14 district buildings or campuses. The district’s technology consultant at the time, Elert & Associates, recommended Mehlville pursue the lease with Charter at an annual cost of roughly $229,550.

The contract with Charter was one of the first major technology projects under the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program approved by voters in November 2000.

That contract will expire in July, and board members voted 6-1 in November to have the administration pursue a contract extension for at least a two-year term.

Board member Ron Fedorchak was opposed.

At the Nov. 16 meeting, Knost recommended against seeking bids for a network provider, noting Charter owns the fiber and the complexity of preparing the bid specifications would require the hiring of a consultant at a cost of $3,500.

“I wanted the board to know that when we were checking around it didn’t make much sense for us to bid that out because the other companies wouldn’t touch it because they don’t own the fiber,” Knost told the Call, “and our rates are prepared to reduce drastically with Charter because now, basically, they’ve recouped all their expenses for running the fiber.”