The School District of Holmen wants to connect its school buildings with high-speed fiber optic cable, so it is seeking village permission to install the lines along village right-of-way.
At the July 5 Holmen Public Works Committee meeting, the school district presented its proposal to run a cable from the district’s existing network to Prairie View Elementary. The public works members voted to send the request to the Holmen Village Board for approval.
The school district has been upgrading its network starting with a line between Holmen High and Holmen Middle schools in 2017; the upgrade was funded by the technology referendum passed in 2015.
Last December, the school district submitted plans to the public works committee and the Holmen Village Board asking permission to run fiber optic lines along village streets from Holmen Middle School to Evergreen Elementary and Viking Elementary schools. The connection to those elementary school buildings is being funded through the district’s regular technology operating budget.
“The fiber optic lines connecting Holmen Middle School, Evergreen Elementary and Viking Elementary are presently under construction and slated to be completed within several weeks,” said Greg Krueger, the school district’s director of information and technology services. “These are the only lines the district had planned for construction this spring.”
In the proposal to run the line from the middle school to the two elementary schools, the village asked the district to install pedestals at specified points on Main Street in anticipation of connecting the village library and police station to the line. The village agreed to reimburse the district for the pedestals.
The proposed line from the high school to Prairie View would connect at the intersection of Hwy. 35 and McHugh Road North and run along the west side of Hwy. 35.
Krueger said that if the line to Prairie View is approved, the 1.8-mile cable will likely be installed sometime this summer or fall.
Krueger said each of the district’s schools has numerous devices requiring high-speed network connections in order to properly function. In addition to education services, technologies include security, surveillance and communication systems.
“In deciding how to deliver high-speed data connections to our schools, the district has two options,” Krueger said. “We can subscribe to services, paying monthly based on the speed of connection we request. The second option to connect a school is by constructing a district-owned fiber line to the building.”
While the district-owned cable is a considerable cost initially, once the line is in place, the district has to pay comparably low maintenance costs. Buried fiber optic cable has a life expectancy of between 20 to 30 years.
Before installing its own cable, the district has been subscribing to a network service. However, using a subscription service can mean price changes from year to year.
“These fluctuations have caused major increases in service pricing from one year to the next at times in the last decade,” Krueger said. “Under this option, the district is subject to a higher monthly fee whenever it requests the speed of service to a school be increased.”
Having its own lines, the district will be able to grow and expand the carrying capacity of the network without paying higher fees for data service.
“High-speed and continually expandable data connections allow our students and teachers to innovate in their classrooms without being constrained by limited technology,” Krueger said. “A fiber network also prepares the district for future changes in technology that will demand higher data speeds.”
At the public works meeting, Holmen Village Administrator Scott Heinig recommended the district install pedestal boxes at intersections along Hwy. 35. Those boxes would allow connections to the line to serve potential future users as the northern section of village is developed.