Forest Grove negotiates for best deal on high-speed data service

After contract renewal negotiations with longtime Internet provider Comcast fizzled late last year, the Forest Grove School District — along with three other local districts and the Northwest Education Service District — began the process of looking for a replacement to bring high-speed data service to area schools.

“We’re part of a metro communications consortium made up of Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard-Tualatin school districts and the ESD,” FGSD technology director Brian Hawkins told the school board Feb. 24. “When Comcast told us they would no longer offer a Service Provider Information Number (SPIN), it became necessary for us to seek a new Internet provider.

“Without this SPIN, we aren’t to able apply for and receive federal E-Rate funding, which allows us to get 79 cents back for every dollar spent.”

Hawkins said he would be back at the March 10 school board meeting to ask for approval of a new provider, adding that Beaverton — on behalf of the consortium — sent out requests for proposals (RFP) in January. The consortium has until March 26 to select a provider, he added, and more than one company could be chosen since one responder may not be able to provide service to all the districts.

Beaverton’s purchasing manager will be opening bids March 7, and the consortium needs time to negotiate and get the contract signed, Hawkins said.

The new contract could be for one year or as many as five years, depending on the outcome of negotiations. “We estimate the new contract, for the same level of service we’ve been getting, will cost $200,000 to $210,000, of which we get back 79 percent,” Hawkins said.

The old contract was for $151,000.

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