By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Knapheide Manufacturing Co. and the Knapheide family are partnering with the Quincy School District and the Quincy Public School Foundation to implement a major technology upgrade for all of the district's public schools.
The upgrade, announced Friday morning, is one of five priorities of the $4 million "Dream Big" campaign started by the Quincy Public Schools Foundation in 2010.
Knapheide's information technology department will team with the district's IT department to design and implement a wireless and wired infrastructure throughout the school system. The upgrade will result in network and wireless Internet access in classrooms, a mobile digital environment in instructional areas of school buildings, a centralized infrastructure to support the technology and devices to access the Internet.
"It's huge," Joel Murphy, district business manager, said of the Knapheide's commitment. "It will bring us into the 21st century."
Murphy said very little wireless technology now is used in the district's school buildings.
"We're going to team up with them and kind of review the options they have for the project," said Dave Kater, Knapheide's senior vice president in charge of information technology. "We're going to provide them with whatever technology expertise that we can bring to the party."
"Our schools will benefit enormously from the highly talented members of the Knapheide IT team, and we are thrilled that they are enthusiastically embracing the opportunity to help our community," said Cal Lee, interim superintendent, in a news release. "In addition, the Knapheide company and family will contribute significant funds toward the project."
Getting involved in the campaign was an easy decision, said Knapheide President Harold Knapheide III. He is an honorary chairman of the Dream Big campaign.
"Everyone has time, talent and/or resources of some kind to contribute to help improve our schools," Knapheide said in a news release. "Our company and family hope other businesses and individuals will embrace the opportunity to determine what they have to contribute to the cause at whatever level works for them."
A survey already is under way at Quincy High School, which will be the pilot building for the program.
"The high school has a little more technology currently in place that we can work with," Murphy said. "It's kind of our technology hub in the district."
There is no timetable on when the project will be finished. It also is not known how much it will cost to complete, though a news release from the Quincy Public Schools Foundation said it would be "several hundreds of thousands of dollars in total."
At a Nov. 21 meeting of the Quincy School Board's finance committee, Murphy said the district would need at least $1.2 million to start getting the district's technology offerings up to speed.
"With a project like this, you want to take your time and go through all steps to do the proper configuration," Kater said. "It's nothing you want to rush out and try to finish."
Quincy School Board President Bill Daniels said one of the most valuable parts of the partnership will be the assistance of Knapheide's IT team to "right-size and right-price this project for our schools."
"We want to provide high-quality educational opportunities cost-effectively," Daniels said in a news release. "We want to be good stewards of our community's funds, both tax dollars and private donations."
Julie Ross, executive director of the foundation, is excited about Knapheide's involvement.
"I am thrilled with Knapheide Manufacturing's commitment of time, talents and resources to our public schools," Ross said. "I look forward to working with others in the community to help them participate with the campaign as well."
The campaign's other initiatives are curriculum, fine arts, athletics and endowment. According to a news release, the campaign had raised about $1.8 million before the Knapheide commitment.
The Dream Big initiative was established in September 2010, but the first donations weren't received until early 2011, when it was still in its "quiet phase." It launched to the public in August 2011.
The campaign's goal is to establish new funding streams for projects needed in the public schools that can't be financed through the regular school district budget because of financial constraints.
How will the new technology benefit Quincy schools?
º Improved teaching and learning through the use of technological tools.
º Improved educators' use of technology to differentiate instruction to meet students' needs.
º Increased accessibility to mobile technology, instructional devices and tool-based software.
º Use of appropriate learning media and computer applications.
º Enhancement of formative and summative assessments.
º Technology-enhanced experiences that foster creativity and high-order thinking skills.
º Instructional demonstration of knowledge and skills required to apply the technology.
-- Provided by Quincy Public Schools Foundation
More on the "Dream Big' Campaign: www.dreambigquincy.org