Snake River School Board tests virtual reality viewers

Virtual reality viewers were tested by the Snake River School Board Tuesday night.

THOMAS — The Snake River school board held its monthly meeting Tuesday night, and among the decisions that faced the trustees were acknowledging the receipt of bids on the district’s sewer project that required a bond election and a new bid proposal on installation and service of the district’s fiber optic WAN provider.

The trustees also were given a demonstration of Riverside Elementary School’s new Virtual Reality viewers and a chance to use the state-of-the-art equipment for themselves.

The most important item on the agenda seemed to be the acceptance of the low bidder for the sewer project, which has been an ongoing project for the district for the past couple of years.

Three bids were received on the sewer project. The highest bidder was Michelson Construction, which came in around $3 million. The second bid was at $1.5 million and the low bid, which was what was recommended to be accepted, was at $1,400,069 and a letter of acceptance of the bid was signed by board chairman Bill Martin to Edstrom Construction out of the Rexburg area. It is expected that a formal contract would be prepared and signed by all parties as they approach the month of April.

The second bid proposal that was discussed was for the district’s fiber optic provider. There was a wide variance in the proposals, from a low bid of $2,822 per month to a high of over $6,000.

Part of the bid process also included the installation of cable that allowed for the fiber optics. The high bidder is the current contract holder and his cables are already installed, but the other two bidders would not be allowed to use those cables.

The low bidder would have an additional cost of $42,000 for the district in order to have the necessary cables in place to provide the service at $2,822 per month. Even with the additional cable installation charge, the new bid would be a substantial savings to the district and discussion ensued that showed that the new provider not only would be a savings to the district, but may allow the future bid process to come in even lower and create additional saving in years to come.

With the high tech cable and fiber optics, the cost gets lower as the use goes longer. Technology is making huge strides in this area and as the costs come down, the service also becomes greater as wider band widths are able to be offered at no additional charge. The new bid will create a bandwidth that will provide almost 10 times the service that is currently being offered to the district.

Probably the most entertaining part of the evening for the board was the demonstration of the virtual reality programs currently in use at Riverside Elementary School.

Used by the second- and third-graders, the viewers were passed around to the board members and those in the audience that showed some of the things that were being taught to the elementary students via the viewers.

Everyone was shown several different video clips, from an underwater video showing different types of fish swimming in the ocean off the coast of Barbados to almost anything else that can be created on video. It has enhanced the learning curve of the elementary children and has been able to show them things that they might never be able to see in real life.

A demonstration of the elementary schools’ improvement in reading and math over the past year and a half was presented by the administration at Riverside and Martin complimented the teachers and staff of the school for the marked improvement shown by the children.

The board also accepted a report from the high school on winter sports. All three of the major sports — boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball, and wrestling — have won district championships. The basketball teams advanced to the state tournament, where the girls’ team was able to bring home the consolation championship.

The wrestling team had two individual state champions and 10 wrestlers who placed at the state meet which in turn allowed the team to finish second in the state to Sugar-Salem.

The board thanked Bob Coombs, the athletic director of the high school, for his report and congratulated the student athletes for their achievements.

Also mentioned were that the orchestra and choir had several students who participated at state and were award winners.

The dance team had a cumulative GPA of 3.377 and qualified for the state tournament this weekend.

The cheer team had a cumulative GPA of 3.617 and qualified for the state tournament this weekend as well.

The wrestlers had a cumulative GPA of 2.906.

The girls’ basketball team had a cumulative GPA of 3.624 for the season and had a record of 17-8 for the year.

The boys’ basketball team had a cumulative GPA of 3.597 and had a record of 15-10 on the year.

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