Denison schools will soon get upgraded fiber optic networking.

The Denison Independent School District board of trustees recently approved a $614,000 budget amendment for E-Rate to upgrade the district’s network equipment. The district is planning to apply for a rebate in the amount of $516,000 from E-Rate, which provides discounted telecommunications technology to school districts and libraries, to help cover the cost.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Randy Reid said the work is needed.

“We have some fiber optic line that is in bad shape,” Reid said. “There has been some damage to cables being chewed through by squirrels. We are going to be replacing it with what is called armored fiber, which deters that type of environmental damage.”

Reid said the $98,000 the work is ultimately slated to cost was moved from instruction to cover the gap between the cost to the district and the amount it would receive in rebates. He said the money was reallocated because technology is considered essential to classroom instruction.

“The district will have to pay the total amount,” Reid said. “Once it is paid for, the district will apply for the rebate. The district gets it approved before they sign the contact.”

He said that due to the splits and repairs in the line, the internet speeds would increase after the upgrade while downtime would decrease due to the new servers that will be installed as part of the process.

In addition to the upfront cost, annual maintenance on the upgraded equipment is expected to run around $39,000.

“The analysis we used was a 10-year plan,” Reid said. “We looked at a provider leasing the cable or the district owning it out right. We decided it was better for the district, as well as less expensive, for us to own it then we would have something at the end of the 10 years.”

Reid said the goal is to begin the work over the summer. He said it won’t be finished by the start of the new school year but the district’s goal was to be done as close to that date as possible.