Farmington School Plans Expansion of Fiber Optic Network


The Farmington school board has decided to expand its fiber-optic networks in the campuses. The current trend among schools in the United States is to build their own networks. The school board has approved a budget for the upcoming school year along with a fiber-optic network expansion project that will be connected to every school in the district.

The members of the Farmington Municipal School District board had adopted the necessary budget to build their own fiber-optic networks for the school. For the school year 2016 – 2017, the board allotted about US$74.75 million during the meeting. Last year the budget was US$78.1 million and hence there is a reduction of $3.35 million according to the school officials.

Farmington is a city in San Juan County in the US state of New Mexico with an estimated population of 45,426 people. Farmington and surrounding San Juan County make up one of the four Metropolitan Statistical Areas in New Mexico.

photo of Farmington Municipal School BoardMany school districts depend on service providers for their broadband service requirement on a fixed-term contract basis. Though the pricing for broadband depends on factors such as competition in the market, often such services are highly-priced. For school management, it is easier to outsource the service from locally available telecom service providers, but need to pay periodically. Building its own network makes sense, but needs to keep force to maintain the network and services.

The district is still looking to cut about US$4.35 million for the upcoming school year due to a decline in enrollment and increases in expenses. The district is estimating about $79.1 million in expenses next school year. District enrollment declined by 141 students from the 2014-2015 total to the current school year. Hence there is a loss in state funding for the district of almost $1.7 million.

Board members have already awarded a US$1.4 million worth contract to Network Cabling to install new fiber-optic lines for schools not currently on the district’s fiber-optic network. The new fiber-optic lines will connect the 15 district buildings and schools currently not connected to the district’s fiber network. Eleven schools on the east side of Farmington handle network and Internet traffic through leased microwave towers that cost about $200,000 annually. Some of those schools include Piedra Vista High, McCormick Elementary, Heights Middle, and Country Club Elementary Schools.

It is expected that the district will initially receive about 80 percent of the funding for the project from E-rate, and if the state contributes 10 percent, E-rate could match the state’s 10 percent to fully pay for the construction costs. The federal program provides discounted telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

The project will be submitted to the Universal Service Administrative Company for approval. The organization facilitates the E-rate program for the FC. Once the application is approved, the management hopes to complete the construction of the fiber-optic network in about 3 to 7 months.

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