Burbank school board ponders future of data center

Burbank Unified school officials may spend double the amount they originally planned on the district’s data center upgrade as they near design improvements to the data center this summer.

The school board previously approved spending $750,000 on the data center improvements, but the latest proposal for the project bumps the price tag up to about $1.5 million.

Charles Poovakan, director of information technology for Burbank Unified, said the district does not have the proper cooling system for the equipment. The proposal would include purchasing a new, up-to-date cooling system and adding one more rack of network and computer equipment to the existing four racks.

The parking lot and restrooms in the data center are not ADA accessible, so the district would need to improve the slope leading to the building and make improvements to the restroom.

While Poovakan said the district could meet the $750,000 budget by retrofitting the area where technology technicians and analysts currently work, he expressed a need to make the area more efficient.

His latest proposal also includes upgrading and expanding the number of workstations and improving the mechanical and electrical systems.

All school board members supported paying the additional cost.

Board member Larry Applebaum also described the current area as “a hodgepodge of space that has been consumed over the years” as the technological needs in the district expanded.

“You have the most inefficient space for our people to work that I have ever seen,” he added. “It’s appalling.”

While he backed the improvement costs, school board member Dave Kemp said he had received “a couple emails” from residents asking how the upgrades would better serve students.

There are currently 3,000 computers in the district, and educators expect that amount to only increase, considering that state officials now require students to take standardized exams on computers.

With more technology infiltrating the schools, Poovakan and others cited a greater need for servicing and maintaining the equipment, in addition to more efficiently running the dozens of servers used across the district’s 20 schools.

“We are planning for what we need now, but [also] for the ability to expand later on if we need to,” Poovakan said.

School officials are still uncertain if they will pay for all $1.5 million in improvements with Measure S bond funds. They are expected to further discuss and vote on the data center’s plan and funding source on May 15.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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