BIG RAPIDS — Two hardware switches at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District will be replaced with E-Rate switches.

During the MOISD Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 12, board members approved purchasing the network equipment through the Universal Service Fund (E-Rate) program, which provides discounts on data transport, internet access and internal broadband connections to schools and libraries, according to the Michigan Department of Education. The goal of the program is to increase student achievement through access to technology supported by broadband internet.

“E-Rates helps save money for schools so we can get technology for the students in all the schools in the MOISD,” said Fred Sharpsteen, technology director. “We provide the internet services for the local schools — it goes to the school through fiber circuits that we release.”

The switch being replaced that distributes internet to the six schools in the district will cost the MOISD more than $2,400, approximately 20 percent of the total costs. The second switch is for the MOISD’s self-data center and will cost more than $2,900, approximately 20 percent of the total costs.

E-Rates discounts also will be used in purchasing internet services, which were 50 cents per megabyte from the Michigan Statewide Educational Network (MISEN). After E-Rates, the MOISD will pay 10.5 cents per megabyte.

In other financial matters, board members approved purchasing a vertical machining center for the innovative engineering program. After the use of grant funds, which were distributed to ISDs statewide for career and technical education materials, the MOISD purchased the center for approximately $2,900.