BUDGETING FOR ICN DISTANCE LEARNING CLASSROOMS
Two alternative strategies can be used when budgeting for annual maintenance costs for
ICN distance learning classrooms. The range between these strategies will provide a
lower and upper level. If funds are available for budgeting purposes, we recommend
adopting the upper level approach, as it should cover most contingencies. In most
situations, the lower level approach is usually adequate unless several problem areas
occur within a given year.
Alternative 1 - Lower Level Approach.
In this scenario, an annual budget would be established that is equal to 10% of the total
cost of the distance learning classroom (equipment plus installation). At this time, due to
the end of the Sony contract, there is a great deal of difference in the cost and final
configuration of an ICN Classroom, with most falling around the $40,000 dollar mark,
depending on accessories and equipment. Assuming and using $40,000 as the example
figure, taking 10% of this figure would provide an annual maintenance budget of
Alternative 2 - Upper Level Approach
For budgeting purposes, most electronic equipment is given a life expectancy of seven
years. Taking the same standard classroom cost of $40,000.00 and dividing by its life
expectancy of seven years provides an annual budget of approximately $5700.00
It is our recommendation, therefore, that the annual ICN classroom budget for repairs,
replacement, and maintenance of distance learning classrooms fall within the lower and
upper level range based on the actual cost of your distance learning classroom. In this
example, the budget range would be $4000.00 - $5700.00.
Budgeting and Maintenance Tips:
a.) Currently, your regional technician and the Iowa Public Television engineers are
picking up much of the day-to-day labor cost. IPTV currently has four field
engineers working throughout the state assisting community colleges/AEAs and their
regional technicians with classroom difficulties and implementation of new classroom
b.) At the time of purchase, there is a one-year "carry in" warranty of the equipment.
The "carry in" warranty means that the regional technician or IPTV will ship or carry
the equipment to a vendor for repair. The majority of the educational ICN classrooms
are now beyond the one-year warranty period.
c.) Items such as cameras, camera lenses, robotics, and systems controllers are items that
most likely will need to be returned to vendors for repair (even after the warranty
period). These items are the least likely to be repairable in the field.
d.) ICN classroom equipment has proven to be very dependable. However, you can
expect routine maintenance needs such as replacing broken connectors, damaged
microphones, repairing damaged table microphone wiring, and repairs to other items
that receive routine day-to-day use.
e.) Your annual repair budget, therefore, should include contingencies for repair costs as
well as equipment replacement costs because of the range of possible maintenance
f.) Sometimes it is more realistic to replace an item than to repair it. For example, an
item that has received a lot of attention is the 32" TV monitor. An average picture
tube will last about 4 to 10 years depending on your usage level. The cost to replace
a picture tube in a set this large has proven to be more than the cost of purchasing a
new replacement. Your regional technician will help you determine when it is more
realistic to replace an item rather than to repair it.
g.) You should also review your insurance policies with your local agent to ensure that
your technology equipment is adequately covered for damage (e.g. lightning strikes,
power surges, etc.). You should also make sure your insurance coverage includes the
staff time it takes to rebuild and reinstall any damaged equipment.
Another Important Note for those sites with Grass Valley Node Controllers:
In some classrooms there will need to be a future replacement of the Classroom Control
System. If your classroom was installed under Part I, Part II, or the first half of Part III,
you are using a Grass Valley Node Controller. Grass Valley has chosen to discontinue
manufacturing or supporting the unit. If this Classroom Control System is damaged by
lightning, or for some other reason cannot be repaired, it will have to be replaced with a
new and upgraded unit. Much the same as with a full classroom, the cost of an upgraded
node controller is in a state of flux due to the discontinuation of the Sony contract. At this
time you can expect to spend $10,000 more or less depending on configuration and
accessories, if you have the older Grass Valley Node Controller in your room.
Identifying the Grass Valley Node Controller:
In order to identify if your ICN classroom has a Grass Valley Node Controller, (or a
different type of node controller) you will need to look in the equipment rack in your ICN
classroom. A Grass Valley Node Controller can be identified by locating the equipment
rack and looking for a large gray electronics box with the name Grass Valley Group Inc.
printed on it. In most all cases it will be one of the lower most units in the equipment
Early installs of the Grass Valley Node Controller were mounted in the equipment rack
with the rear of the unit to the front of the rack
Later installs of the Grass Valley Node Controller were as above with the front of the unit
turned to the front of the equipment rack.
If you are unsure of whether your ICN classroom has a Grass Valley Node Controller,
contact your regional technician for assistance.
If you have any questions about ICN distance learning classroom, building, remodeling,
equipment replacement, or maintenance issues, please call Gary McMillen, Senior
Engineer at Iowa Public Television. He can be reached at 515-242-6496 or via e-mail at
Revised 03/29/02 - Pictures Added 05/24/02