District 203 plans to increase spending on IT in coming years    

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IT spending across all schools within Naperville School District 203 could increase in the next half-decade if administrators’ projections in a forward-looking spending plan ultimately come to fruition.

District 203’s board of education was recently presented with information on IT capital spending projections this school year, as well as the next four school years that stretch into 2027-28.

A $1.21 million increase anticipated next year

District 203’s capital IT budget could increase $1.21 million, year over year. Next year’s budget could clock in at $4.84 million, representing an increase from the $3.63 million budget in place this school year.

Next year’s spending plan includes the allocation of funds for such purchases as new 1:1 Chromebooks and iPads for elementary schools, funding for high school digital media labs and safety upgrades.

Tentative figures, further out, also indicate planned IT spending increases. District 203 administrators are projecting a capital IT budget of $4.71 million in the 2025-26 school year, $3.99 million in 2026-27 and $5.29 million in 2027-28.

Wireless access points replacement

Administrators comb through District 203’s capital IT budget annually. Since last year’s presentation, there has been one sizable change, Roger Brunelle, chief information officer, said.

The planned replacement of a critical piece of infrastructure — wireless access points throughout school buildings — is being bumped up a year. It initially was slated for the 2026-27 school year budget, but instead has been placed in 2025-26 and is reflected in the shifted figures.

“These are the devices located throughout all of our district buildings that allow the wireless communication from individual computers and systems to go to the data center for processing,” Brunelle said.

Speaking to the rationale behind the shift, Brunelle said, “This was done, based on analysis of these access points’ life span, as we have found that the anticipated useful life will be about a year less than we had previously estimated.”

Capital spending one piece of the IT pie

Technology’s role in daily life continues to grow and evolve; this scenario has also played out in the public school setting. The large-scale capital spending projects are just one piece of a larger spending pie for IT across District 203.

To illustrate the point, Brunelle said this current school year’s IT budget includes $5.67 million toward infrastructure needs, $1.39 million toward applications and data management and $63,000 toward administration costs. This all is alongside the $3.63 million capital budget.

Board to vote on 2024-25 IT capital budget on Sept. 18

The current 2023-24 school year might have just gotten underway, but District 203 officials have begun financial planning for the next school year — and beyond — to anticipate what the expense side of the ledger might look like.

Superintendent Dan Bridges explained why administrators and the board alike plan ahead on IT capital spending, saying, “It’s another large expenditure that we have annually.”

The board will be asked to vote on the IT capital spending budget plan for the 2024-25 school year at its next meeting Sept. 18.

“The other (school years) are more like a projection or forecast so the board is aware of anticipated expenses in coming years,” Bridges said, pointing out the board will not be asked to vote on the earmarked figures for the 2025-26, 2026-27 or 2027-28 school years.

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