To the editor:
Now that we have elected three great new Lake Placid School Board members and approved the budget, it is time to examine this budget further. Now is the right time because as its been explained, the voters don't actually vote on the details of the budget, but instead vote on the total budget number only. The board can manipulate the details at their discretion. Since I agree with the number, I wanted to wait to discuss the details until after the dust settled.
This budget unnecessarily eliminates a valuable elementary school teacher. Multiple education studies have shown that small class sizes are crucial for young school kids to get the attention they need to thrive. The rational put forth for this cut is the expectation of future enrollment reduction. If Randy Richards does his job by increasing enrollment, as the board has mandated, there would be no
need for this elimination. As well, there are multiple elementary teachers who intend on retiring in the next couple of years. Why can't we wait?
If we can't change the total number of the budget and need to find the money within the budget, where do we find it? How about the new technology plan that was recently purposed? But first, some historical context. Last year, Randy Richards removed our well regarded local technology director and replaced him with a person contracted to us by BOCES. Since then, the school email system crashed and after many months was replaced by a very expensive system that costs $5,000 a year and was provided to us by BOCES. Later, BOCES started to update Lake Placid school's website and social media presence. This resulted in a school Twitter account without safeguards that allowed pornography to be linked to the site.
So after BOCES questionable history in the realm of technology you would think the school administration would start questioning BOCES advice. Instead, our BOCES technology person hired a BOCES consultant to evaluate our current system. Based on the consultant's recommendation, we will be purchasing $400,000 worth of equipment through BOCES. Additionally, BOCES has asked for only one bid for these purchases and did not bother to compare prices with other vendors.
So I did my own price comparison. Because of open meeting laws, some
of the part numbers to be purchased were published. I took a few of these part numbers, typed them into Google and found that we could save more than $30,000 by ordering these same exact items on the Internet instead of through BOCES. I don't have a complete list and more savings are likely to be found. The school board has been made aware of my findings, however in this letter I would like to focus of the largest line item: CISCO AIR-AP1131AG-A-K9 Wireless Access Point (WAP). The school plans to order 81 of these at a cost of $51,398.55. I found the same item from newegg.com (a well respected website) for $35,234.19. This is a savings of $16,164.36.
Another question is: Why are we buying 81 of this model and approxately 20 others WAPs? I have spoken to a local hotel owner who has a wireless system in a building the size of and with demand equal to the high school. They only have 33 WAPs. As well this hotel owner didn't buy the $500 model, but found a less expensive one works just fine. Even Newegg.com recommends a Cisco brand WAP that costs $169.99 for the same function.
These are the questions that don't get asked when you choose to only
request a bid from an organization like BOCES. I would much rather spend our taxpayer dollars on reducing class sizes and keeping a local professional employed in Lake Placid than pay that money to a downstate company through BOCES. Let's get some more quotes and save a teacher.