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Five Don'ts of Ed-Tech Construction

Bill Day is a senior analyst at KBD Planning Group (www.kbdplanning.com), an Indiana-based consulting firm that specializes in educational facilities and technology planning. Day says his firm repeatedly sees different districts making the same big mistakes. Here's how to avoid them.

 

1. Don't let the vendor prepare your bids and specifications. "Almost every vendor will tell schools that they'll prepare these at no cost," Day warns. "Their primary regard is to sell you their own hardware and software—not to meet your school's intent of what technology should do now and in the future."

2. Don't let your architectural engineer develop your plans. "Architects are simply not educators," notes Day. "When they don't understand something about teaching and learning, they tend to go back to the technology vendor to confer. That frequently leads to answers that don't take into account the educational need."

3. Don't get caught up in the wiring infrastructure. "If the infrastructure is correct, everything else will work," claims Day. "It will handle everything that needs wiring in a school, including voice, telephone, data, and video."

4. Don't forget to add a commissioning clause to the contract. "Schools must require an independent agent to test and certify everything, because once a check is cut, it's sometimes hard to get additional work done."

5. Don't have the tech program bid to the general contractor—get the bids directly. You may not get any general contractor discounts, Day says, but you'll avoid the standard contractor markup of 5-8 percent, and you'll avoid sales tax.

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