January 13, 2014 10:50AM
By Eric Vo
WALLINGFORD — With the field test of the Smarter Balanced assessment scheduled for March, school administrators are looking to quickly replace 50 computers at Dag Hammarskjold Middle School after they sustained water damage from a frozen heating coil.
A heating coil on the fourth floor of the school library froze last weekend, according to Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Marc Deptula. As the temperature got warmer, Deptula said, the coil began to “thaw” and water dripped down to the media center where the computer lab is located.
“The coil must have froze Sunday morning and as it got warmer it thawed out,” Deptula said. “There were a couple of events going on at the school that day and when the custodian came in he noticed that he had this issue to deal with.”
As the coil thawed, water dripped down onto the computers and the floor. Some of the computers were still usable, according to Director of Information Technology Services Randall Backus. For the computers that only had water “dribbled on top of them,” Backus said, he and his staff dried them off and discovered they still worked. Other computers, Backus said, were standing in three inches of water so it was expected they would no longer work.
Replacing the 50 computers will cost the school system $39,316. Deptula said he was uncertain how much it would cost to make the repairs to the ceiling and other damaged areas of the library.
During an instructional committee meeting Thursday, the Board of Education took consensus on transferring the money from the school system’s contingency account to pay for the replacements. The board will approve the transfer during an operations committee meeting on Monday, Backus said.
It’s important to replace the computers as soon as possible, School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said, because field testing of the Smarter Balanced assessment will take place in March.
The difficulty of the questions asked on the computerized adaptive test changes depending on student answers. The Smarter Balanced assessment will replace the Connecticut Mastery Test, administered to students in grades 3 through 8, and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, administered to students in 10th grade.
Once the money is transferred, Backus said the computers can be replaced by mid-February.