By Stacy Winstryg
In November of last year, the voters in the Vail School District passed a bond that will help pay for a new high school, new K-8 school, transportation and safety needs, as well as a private fiber-optic network system. I spoke with Matt Federoff, Chief Information Officer for the Vail School District to find out more information on this.
What is the District building exactly? We’re building a 35-mile private fiber-optic network that will connect all our regular school sites.
What will this do for our schools? This new network will bring two primary benefits. First, it will provide essentially unlimited network bandwidth between our schools. We’ll start with 10 gigabits/second and go up from there as technology improves. Second, we can discontinue the existing links we purchased from Cox for these services. We’ll get the district off the local Cox network and save over $100,000 per year in costs. In short, both faster and cheaper… a double-win for our schools.
Building a 35-mile fiber-optic network sounds expensive. How are is the district doing this? It is expensive, over 4 million dollars in round numbers. But the good news is that the Federal government and State of Arizona are picking up 75% of the cost.
They’re paying for 75% of the cost? How? Included in the bond package was nearly a million dollars, the district portion of the cost. Without that, the state and Feds would never have come through with their share.
What’s the most exciting part of this project for you? The performance and cost savings are compelling. But what gets me most excited is that we’ll have this network essentially forever. There are fiber-optic networks that have been in service for 40 years. They never wear out and run faster and faster as networking technology improves. It will last as long as our schools will and be serving our students for generations. And it’s all possible because our voters said “Yes”!
Thanks to Mr. Federoff for providing us with this exciting news for our Vail schools. And thank you to the voters for making this possible!