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Published: Wednesday, 9/21/2011

Bedford school board takes bids on phone system

Labor Day lightning damaged circuitry cards


TEMPERANCE -- The Bedford schools will be getting a new phone system because a lightning strike on Labor Day destroyed a lot of circuitry.

The Board of Education last week approved a 10-month, $72,170 contract with Buckeye TeleSystem that includes the cost of additional equipment.

The contract extends to June 30, but it allows the district to start looking for a lower cost service in January by soliciting bids. Funding will come from insurance proceeds and the schools' capital maintenance fund.

The lightning strike knocked out four phone-system power boards that the district replaced for $8,000, and destroyed three T1 cards that would cost $7,000 apiece to replace, Superintendent Ted Magrum told the board.

In a memo, Doug Kohler, the district's director of information services, said that replacing the three T1 cards would not necessarily be the end of the district's troubles.

The district would have to determine how much the other cards were damaged and whether replacements were needed.

"We know that the cards used for Douglas Road Elementary and the transportation buildings are both bad, and there is an undetermined problem with Temperance Road Elementary," he wrote.

Mr. Kohler recommended the district go with the Buckeye proposal, which was the lowest of three quotes. Buckeye TeleSystem is the district's phone carrier and is owned by Block Communications Inc., the parent firm of The Blade.

Mr. Kohler said the new VOIP phone system would give the district "some redundancy" because it could be used over the Internet. Since the lightning strike, the district has been using a jury-rigged phone system running through Buckeye's modems.

In other business, the board approved a contract for the district's three bus mechanics, who earn from $19.99 to $23.27 per hour. The contract, which runs to June 30, continues a wage freeze and has the mechanics pay 11 percent of their medical insurance premium for six months and 20 percent thereafter, Mr. Magrum said.

The board also approved contracts with 34 nonunion employees in community education. They'll pay 10 percent of their medical insurance premiums and their coverage will include a higher deductible.

The district has negotiated new contracts with eight of its nine bargaining units, but has not come to an agreement with its teachers. Mr. Magrum said fact finding has been requested by both sides.

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