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Middle school goes high-tech

New fiber-optics and a network-based media-control system puts information at teachers' fingertips.

January 17, 2007|By Rachel Kane

BURBANK — Construction is underway on major technology upgrades at Luther Burbank Middle School as part of the school's campus modernization project comes to a close.

In the coming weeks, the school will begin using a new culinary-arts classroom and lab. And work on faster Internet and computer-networking capabilities through use of a fiber-optics system is underway.

As the first of eight schools set to have technological upgrades in the next year, Burbank Middle School leads the way with a $3.6-million project in the second year of the district's technology master plan.

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"There's a lot that will be going on," the district's Technology Services Manager Rick Vonk said.

"Our goal is to get it installed as soon as possible."

The master plan includes new network cabling, network equipment, telephone systems and video equipment, Vonk said.

Bogen iQuest, a network-based media-control system that enables teachers to distribute programming to classrooms from a central location, is the freshest feature in the project, he said.

"Now they will have the resources to be able to get information and expand and really be able to incorporate technology into the curriculum," Vonk said.

The iQuest program would enable teachers to pick educational videos out of a large database networked throughout the school and run those videos in their classrooms without tapes or discs.

Vonk expects that by the end of 2009, Burbank schools will have full networking capabilities, putting all the information in the district at each teacher's fingertips.

Most of the schools have already had the chance to take advantage of faster Internet capabilities with most of the new fiber-optics in place.

The school's rate of information exchange over the Internet and through their network has increased from 5 megabits per second to 155, Vonk said.

"It's building the capacity for all kinds of great networking and technology," Luther Middle School Principal Anita Schackmann said. "We have really done a lot with what we have."

The school is funding the updates through its modernization budget, a Microsoft grant and other district funds lumped together to cover 10% of the $3.6 million covered by federal E-rate funds.

Monterey High School, Community Day School, Disney Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Miller Elementary, Providencia Elementary and Washington Elementary are all next in line for technological advancements.

"As they're doing a lot of this work it's just tying in with the newly constructed area and it's going to make it really nice," Schackmann said.

"It's all the infrastructure for the new technology. It's going to be beautiful."

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