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2012November13 Council hands over $14.5 Million to MCPS without any contracts.

2012November13 Council hands over $14.5 Million to MCPS without any contracts.

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Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, Promethean, Dell, Cisco, Banc of America
Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, Promethean, Dell, Cisco, Banc of America

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08/20/2013

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AGENDA ITEM #12November 13, 2012Action
MEMORANDUM
November 9,2012TO: County CouncilFROM: Essie McGuire, Senior Legislative
Analy~~
SUBJECT: Action -Special Appropriation to the FY13
Capital
Budget
and
Amendmentto the FY13-18
Capital
Improvements
Program,
Montgomery
County
PublicSchools, Technology Modernization, $2,042,000
E-rate Program Funds
EDUCATION
COMMITTEE
RECOMMENDATION
The
Education Committee
met
on November 5 to review the special
appropriation,
and
unanimously recommended approval as requested, $2,042,000
of
Federal
E-rate
funds
for
the MCPS Technology Modernization project in FY13.During the Committee worksession, the Committee reiterated the Council'srecommendation for the FY13-l8 CIP for Technology Modernization. In its action on the FY13
18
CIP this spring, the Council explicitly stated its assumption that the school system would beable to add E-rate funds to the annual appropriation amount for FY13-14. The Council alsoexplicitly stated that this approach would not
be
assumed beyond FYl4, and that the Councilwould have to reassess the fiscal situation in FY15 before determining how potential E-ratefunds would
be
integrated into Technology Modernization funding in the outyears.MCPS
Chief
Operating
Officer
Larry
Bowers confirmed
that
MCPS understood theCouncil's
approach
to
E-rate and
Technology Modernization funding,
and
that
the schoolsystem would need to accommodate future payment obligations in FY15
and
beyond
through
reprioritization,
if
necessary. Council staff noted that there
is
no pending CIP requestfor a change to the approved County funding for Technology Modernization in FYl4-18. Mr.Bowers agreed that any Council action for FY13 would not represent a commitment to a specificlevel
of
funding for the Technology Modernization project in FY15 and beyond.In response to Committee Chair Ervin, Executive Branch staff stated that the Executivewas satisfied that the questions in his October transmittal were answered through the Councilreview process.
PUBLIC HEARING
The Council held a public hearing on this appropriation on November
6;
this hearing wasrescheduled from October 30 due to Hurricane Sandy. At the public hearing, Councilmembers
 
raised a number
of
questions. While many
of
these were discussed the previous day at theCommittee work session, the relevant materials were not immediately available forCouncilmembers to reference during the public hearing. The issues raised
by
Councilmembersduring the hearing are outlined below, with references to the supporting material in the packet.In addition, MCPS
Chief
Technology Officer Sherwin Collette will be present to answerquestions and discuss these issues with the Council.
Contracting process:
MCPS intends to use one
of
two Statewide contracts to purchase thePromethean Board systems. These State contracts, one executed by the State
of
Marylandand one by the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium, were competitively bid. MCPScan, and often does, use State contracts to procure goods and services. MCPS conducted itsown competitive process to procure the wireless network technologies. (Circle 11)
• Federal rebate structure:
Public testimony referenced the fact that the Federal funds can beaccessed through two approaches, a rebate
or
a price discount. MCPS employs the rebateapproach. The Federal process for reviewing E-rate claims can be lengthy, and Federalawards, particularly for large school systems, are regularly awarded well into a fiscal year.Vendors are not generally required to discount prices in advance
of
a Federal award. Thusschool systems must begin payment for telecommunication services before knowing howmuch
of
either a discount or rebate it will receive for those services. The rebate structureensures accuracy both in billing for telecommunication services and in claiming Federalreimbursement for school systems and vendors during the E-rate review process.The rebate funding approach is consistent with the Council's appropriation authority for localand non-local funds. Ultimately, the Council determines the total amount
of
County dollarsto appropriate for the MCPS Technology Modernization project regardless
of
the technicalapproach to this Federal funding. The Council's approved CIP and the Committee'srecommendation
on
this appropriation request take both County and Federal funding sourcesinto account.
• Vendor financial status:
Concerns have been raised regarding the financial status
of
Promethean World PLC and whether MCPS and this investment are at risk
if
there are futuredifficulties with the company. MCPS states that it has received assurances that the companyis still financially well-positioned. MCPS also states that
if
Promethean ceases operation
in
the future, the technology will not be left unsupported, because the components aremaintained by other manufacturers and MCPS will have access to the software code.
MCPS'
fuller discussion
of
this issue is
on
circles 24-27.
• Future upgrade and maintenance needs:
Circle 20 details the warranty and supportstructure for the boards and components.
It
includes 5-year warranty, call
in
and onsitesupport, and software licensing and upgrades.Today the County Council will hold a worksession to review a special appropriation tothe FY13 Capital Budget and amendment to the FY13-18 Capital Improvements Program (CIP),2 
 
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Technology Modernization,
of
$2,042,000 inFederal E-rate Program Funds.The Board
of
Education requested this appropriation on September
11,2012.
A draftappropriation resolution is attached
on
circles 1-2. The County Executive recommendedapproval
of
this appropriation (transmittal attached beginning
on
circle 3) but also raised severalqualifying questions
he
requested the Council address.The Council introduced this appropriation request
on
October
23
and was scheduled tohold a public hearing
on
October 30.
As
the Council's session that day was cancelled due toHurricane Sandy, the public hearing was rescheduled to November 6. The Education Committeereviewed this appropriation request
on
November 5 and unanimously recommended approval.
BACKGROUND
Promethean Boards are the primary whiteboard components
of
interactive classroomtechnology systems which inClude other elements such as student response units. MCPS beganimplementing an interactive technology initiative in school year 2008-2009, acquiring 2,600board systems and installing them in about two-thirds
of
all secondary classrooms. This initialphase was funded primarily
by
Federal E-rate reimbursement and financed over several years.MCPS made the final payment on the secondary classroom Promethean Boards in
FYI2.
E-rate funds are available through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).This program allows school and library systems to claim Federal funds
on
local dollars paid fortelecommunications expenses, such as telephone and network connections. Schools pay the totalbill for covered expenses, then claim additional funding based
on
FARMS enrollment andwhether the district is urban or rural. These funds are received annually,
and
the Council hasappropriated them as part
of
the Technology Modernization capital project.
On
September 6, Superintendent Joshua Starr informed Council President Roger Berlinerthat MCPS intended to seek Board
of
Education approval
of
contracts and Council appropriation
of
Federal funds to expand the Promethean Board interactive technology initiative; this letter andan update memorandum to the Board are attached at circles 12-18.
On
September 11, the Board
of
Education approved this initiative and requested a specialappropriation
of
$2,042,000 for the FY13 capital budget for the Technology Modernizationproject (Board
of
Education transmittal and resolution attached at circles 6-9). The source
of
funds for this appropriation is Federal E-rate Program funds. The purpose
of
this funding requestis to implement the Promethean Board technology systems in all elementary schools andcomplete installing wireless networks in all schools.
PROGRAMMATIC OVERVIEW
MCPS has provided extensive background materials and explanation detailing thepurpose
of
the initiative and its relationship to the school system's instructional priorities. Ahelpful two page synopsis (circles 10-11) provides an overview
of
the technology approach and3 

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