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Networking RFP

Cascade Schools is seeking requests for proposals for a computer network upgrade project. The project has three components:

  1. Installing fiber connections from our Main Data Facility (MDF) to 7 Intermediate Data Facilies (IDF)
  2. Replacing our existing network switching infrastructure with a managed network, including a network firewall
  3. A managed wireless network, either using our existing 802.11n APs or replacing with 802.11ac wave 2 APs (or ax) in a denser configuration, or some combination.


  • RFP posted on 2/15/19
  • Form 470 posted and certified on 2/15/19
  • Bids must be received by the end of 3/15/19, electronic submission to Chris Hinze (chris@cascdeschools.org) or hard copy acceptable.
  • Vendor selection by the end of 3/19/19

Other Considerations:

  • We have tried to be as detailed as possible in this RFP so that potential vendors can develop a proposal without a site visit. However, we do recommend that vendors visit the site for a more complete picture of the project's scope and challenges. Please make arrangements for a site visit with the Technology Director - Chris Hinze (208-630-6057 x2590, 208-630-3313, chris@cascadeschools.org).
  • Vendors are encouraged to provide a preferred solution for each aspect of the project, but several alternatives can be presented for any or all aspects.
  • One vendor will be selected for the entire project based on the rubric included in the RFP.
  • The project contract will include an out clause in the case of denial of erate funding. Once the project has been initiated, a loss of 10% or more of Category 2 erate funding due to changes in erate rules or funding formulas allows the district to terminate the management services, paying only for management services provided up to the date of termination. Any fees paid in advance by the district will be refunded accordingly.
  • Vendors must be qualified to participate in the erate program and a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN)
  • Vendors will use the Service Provider Invoice (SPI) method to apply erate discounts, not the Billed-Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) method. 
  • Any vendor questions will be answered in the FAQ section at the bottom of the RFP.

General Technical Details:

Our campus network operates on a single LAN with a 200 Mbps fiber internet connection provided by Cable One with Education Networks of America (ENA) as our ISP. We are currently in year one of a five-year contract with ENA, with the option to upgrade as high as 500 Mbps. 

Please refer to our ground floor and 2nd floor maps for additional details. The maps are to approximate scale. For reference the exterior wall of the high school gym (room 300) is 110 feet. Our school consists of 27 classrooms (rooms 110, 130, 140, 160, 170, 180, 210, 220, 230, 240, 320, 340, 360, 420, 430, 440, 450, 460, 500, 510, 520, 530, 540, 550, 560, 580 and 590), one computer lab (330) , one library (150), two gyms (190 and 300), two teacher workrooms (142 and 409), a cafeteria (600), a small student common area (near entrances B and C in the 300 hallway), 3 office spaces(200-206, 250/252, 400-406) and 5 individual offices/conference rooms (143, 181, 185, 186, 188). Other rooms are non-occupied areas such as storage closets, restrooms, etc. 

We currently have 220 students in grades PK through 12  with a one-to-one chromebook program for grades K-12.  The wired network services 2 Active Directory/File/Print Servers, a video surveillance server,  an HVAC server, 36 staff workstations, 35 student workstations, 57 PoE video cameras, 3 MFPs, 18 network printers, one Enphase solar panel controller, and 39 PoE phones on an ENA-managed VOIP system. We anticipate adding a bell/PA/fire alarm system to the network within the life of this project.

Fiber Connections:

The fiber-optic cable will run in vendor-installed conduit. All fiber runs will be terminated and tested by the vendor. The vendor will repair or replace any conduit, cable or terminations that fail during the 5-year duration of the project if the failure is due to installation error. 

The MDF is room 347. IDFs are rooms 142, 188, 261, 332, 402 and 432 on the ground floor, and room 542 on the 2nd floor. For the most part, conduit can be installed above suspended ceilings. Some sections will either have to be installed in attic spaces or exposed conduit in hallways, closets, etc, at the vendor's discretion. In particular, cable to closets 142, 188, 261 and 542 would have to traverse an area without conduit either through room 360 or a 15' section of hallway near the entrance to room 360. The runs to closets 142 and 188 require exposed conduit or passage through attic space between room 261 and the suspended ceiling hallway starting at door J, as the hallway is at a slightly higher elevation than room 261, so the conduit could not pass directly from room 261 into the suspended ceiling in the hallway.  The conduit to room 142 would also traverse a 10' section of hallway where hallway 200 abuts hallway 100 between rooms  141 and 150. The conduit to 188 would also traverse a 10'' section where there is no suspended ceiling between rooms 181 and 185 where that hallway abuts hallway 100. There is also no suspended ceiling at that section of hallway 100, or in rooms 184, 187 and 188. The conduit into room 432 would also traverse a small section of hard ceiling in the small janitor's closet (416). Finally, note that hallway 400 and its adjacent rooms have insulation directly on top of the suspended ceiling tiles, so running exposed conduit in these areas may be the preferred option.

For information on interior walls, please see the "wall densities" paragraph in the "Wireless Network" section.

Network Switching, Firewall, and Management:

The vendor will replace all network switches and firewall with gear that we either purchase outright, lease or use on a lease-to-own or lease-with-buyout option, depending on the total cost of ownership projected over a 5-year duration. We require complete vendor management of the switches, including configuration, monitoring, configuration backups and changes, troubleshooting, timely updates of firmware/OS and NBD replacement of failed equipment. We would like to also provide GUI access to district technology personnel for monitoring status and minor configuration adjustments such as adding a tagged VLAN to a port.

Our network is segmented into 5 VLANs: VOIP, security cameras, wireless, general and HVAC ( a single controller in a DMZ).  None The Active Directory servers are on the general VLAN, and none of the other VLANs should have access to the general VLAN. The printers and MFPs are on the general VLAN, and Google Cloud Printing should have access to the general VLAN from the wireless VLAN. Our current Watchguard XTM-330 firewall will be replaced,  preferably with an on-premise firewall. We would entertain cloud-based firewall solutions so long as they are comparable in performance to on-premise equipment. In either case, we require vendor assistance in migrating our existing firewall configuration, which is fairly simple, consisting of NAT translation, about 30 firewall rules, and about 20 hosts or named ranges (check this). The vendor will also assist in any configuration changes required during the life of the project. We have a workstation-base content filtering solution in place that we intend to continue. Please explain any additional security features included with the firewall such as intrusion detection, DDoS mitigation (probably not important, as we do not provide any client-facing services on-site), etc. Our preference is to use a solution that is as close to 100% category 2 erate-eligible as possible.

In addition to being the aggregation point for the fiber runs to the IDF's, the MDF equipment provides connectivity to our servers (there are 4), and several of the nearby APs, IP phones, surveillance cameras and classroom ethernet drops.  This might be best accommodated with a fiber aggregator and a 48-port layer 2 PoE switch or perhaps a single layer 3 switch that can carry 48 PoE ports in addition to the seven fiber connections to the IDFs. The handoff from the on-premise ISP router to the district is via ethernet. The seven IDFs will require layer 2 switches with the following numbers of ethernet ports, which includes some additional ports for expansion:
  • 332 requires 24 PoE ports and UPS
  • 402 requires 24 PoE ports plus 48 standard ethernet ports
  • 432 requires 48 PoE ports and UPS
  • 261 requires 48 PoE ports
  • 142 requires 48 PoE ports and 24 standard ethernet ports
  • 188 requires 12 PoE ports and UPS
  • 542 requires 24 PoE ports and 48 standard ethernet ports
Room 330 is a computer lab, consisting of 4 rows of tables, with a separate switch at each table.  Three of the rows have 6 workstations and one has 8 workstations. These switches should also be cloud-managed using the same system as the other network switches.

Wireless Network:

We are seeking proposals for two options. Vendors are encouraged to submit proposals for either or both options as well as any appropriate hybrid option. Our current wireless network consists of 20 cloud-managed Aerohive 802.11n APs, all of which broadcast our 4 SSIDs.

Option 1: Management of the existing wireless network for one or two years. Cascade schools will retain ownership of the AP's, and may possibly add up to three APs of the same or higher model during the term of the contract. School district personnel would be responsible for installing, terminating and testing any cabling to accommodate new or relocated APs. In the 4 years of operation of the wireless network, no APs have had to be replaced, nor have any on-site service calls been required since initial installation. The vendor would be expected to provide support in the following areas at a minimum:
  • Monitor the wireless network for outages.
  • Configure, with the assistance of district personnel if necessary, any new or replacement APs.
  • Add or remove SSIDs, as necessary.
  • Change SSID passwords, as necessary
  • Troubleshoot connectivity issues
  • Provide timely updates to AP firmware and configurations.
Option 2: Replace our current wireless network with 802.11ac wave 2 (or ax) access points in a density sufficient to meet our anticipated needs over the next 5 years, including coverage of the entire school building, exclusive of outbuildings (currently a garage and portable classroom used mainly for storage). We would prefer to have some shared management, allowing district staff to modify configurations such as activating and deactivating SSIDs or changing SSID passwords without going through vendor tech support. The vendor would be responsible for installing, terminating and testing additional cables to the most convenient wiring closet as well as installing the APs themselves. The cabling to existing APs (tested to Cat 5e) is available to use. With the exception of a cable run to the elementary gym, all cabling can be installed above suspended ceilings. In this case, the cabling may be installed through the attic space or through the hallway within conduit, according to the vendor's preference. The APs could be sold to the school district outright, leased to the district, or provided on a lease-to-own or 5-year buyout option (3 or 4 years in the case of a hybrid proposal combining options 1 and 2). The vendor responsibilities in the bulleted items under option 1 would also apply.

Wall Densities

Most of the interior walls are sheetrock or sheetrock backed by particle board. The exceptions are all of the walls surrounding the high school gym and locker rooms (300, 302 and 307), the high school gym balcony (570), room 565, both sides of hallway 300 along the locker rooms (302 and 307), the wall between rooms 269 and 185/186, the walls on the hallway side of rooms 152, 154 and 181, and hallway walls outside rooms 150 and 152. These walls are masonry.
Exterior walls are masonry, with the exception of the elementary gym, which has wood-paneled walls.

Evaluation Rubric:

  • Total cost of ownership over 5-years. For proposals including only wireless option 1 for a one- or two-year duration, the average annualized TCO of the top 2 vendors' option 2 proposals will be added to complete the 5-year duration for comparative purposes - Up to 50 points.
  • Previous experience with the vendor: Up to 10 points
  • Quality of equipment: 15 points
  • Conformity of solution to school district needs: 15 points
  • Buyout option: 10 points

Evaluation Rubric Details and Examples:

Total Cost of Ownership (note: these cost figures are for illustration only and do not reflect our expected bid ranges):

  • Company A provides a solution that is 100% eligible for erate discounts at a total cost of $100,000 over 5 years. The wireless is option 2 only at a cost of $20,000.
  • Company B provides a solution that is 80% eligible for erate discounts at a total cost of $80,000. The wireless is option 2 only at a cost of $15,000 at 90% erate eligible.
  • Company C provides a solution that is 100% erate eligible, which includes wireless option 1 for one year and option 2 for 4 years. The total cost is $95,000 and the cost of the 4 years for option 2 is $13,000.
  • Company D provides a solution this is 90% eligible for erate discounts, but only includes option 1 on wireless for 2 years. The total cost is $70,000

TCO Calculations:
  • Company A: $100,000 (total cost) - 70% (School district erate discount rate) = $30,000 TCO
  • Company B: At 80% erate eligibility, the TCO is 20%(non-eligible) of $80,000  (total cost) plus 30%(district share of erate-discounted services) of 80%(share of total project costs eligible for erate discounts) of $80,000 (total project cost) = $16,000 + $19,200 = $35,200 TCO
  • Company C: $95,000 (total cost) - 70% (School district erate discount rate) = $28,500 TCO
  • Company D: Since company D did not provide a wireless solution for the last three years of the project, we must project a cost to the district for providing wireless services for the final 3 years of the 5-year period by averaging the two lowest-cost proposals for option 2 services. 
    • Company A provides wireless option two at $20,000 - 70% (School district erate discount rate) = $6,000 TCO over 5 years for an average annual TCO of $1,200.
    • Comapany B provies wireless option 2 at $15,000 with 90% discount eligibility, 30% is the non-discount amount = $1,500 + $4,050 = $5,550 TCO over 5 years for an average annual TCO of $1,110
    • Company C provides wireless option two at $13,000, so the TCO is $3,900 over 4 years for an average annual TCO of $975.
    • The two lowest annual costs for option 2 wireless is company B and company C for an average annual costs of $1,042.50. Since Company D did not provide wireless for the last three years of the project, $3,127.50 will be added to their TCO for comparative purposes.
  • Company D calculation: 10% of $70,000 (non-eligible erate) + 30% of 90% of $70,000 (erate portion with discount) + $3,127.50 (from previous step) = $7,000 + $18,900 + $3,127.50 = $29,075.50
Point Allocation:
Company C has the lowest TCO, so they receive 50 points.
Company D is 1.85% higher, so they receive 98.15% of the 50 points = 49 points
Company A is 5.26% higher, so they receive 94.74% of the 50 points = 47 points
Company B is 14.04% higher, so they receive 85.96% of the 50 points = 43 points 

Previous experience with the vendor:

Any vendor who has not worked with the school district within the previous 10 years will default to 5 points out of the possible 10.
Vendors who have worked with the district within the previous 10 years will receive 
  • The full 10 points if they have consistently provided excellent service and met or exceeded all obligations in the scope of work.
  • 8 points if the vendor has provided adequate service and met obligations in the scope of work.
  • 3 points if either the services provided or deficiencies in fulfilling the scope of work have resulted in minor disruptions to the school district's functioning.
  • 0 points if either the services provided or deficiencies in fulfilling the scope of work have resulted in major disruptions to the school district's functioning.
The vendor was contracted to install and manage a PA and alarm system.  The contract award date was 6/15/18 and the system was to up and operational by 8/15/18. Service details include 24/7/365 phone support, NBD replacement of system components, and one day of training. 
  • 1st scenario: The system was fully operational by 8/15/18, initial training was provided on 8/15/18. A new office manager was hired on 8/25/18 and we put in a request for a one-on-one training. The trainer was coming through Cascade on 8/27/18 and stopped in to provide 1 hour of one-on-one training at no additional cost. All service calls were handled promptly and efficiently. 10 points
  • 2nd scenario: Similar to first, but no additional training was provided. Fairly routine support questions sometimes had to be escalated to tier 2 tech support, causing a delay of an hour or two, and more time on the phone. 8 points
  • 3rd scenario: Similar to 2nd, except that the vendor did not get the system in an operational state until 8/28/18 - the 2nd teacher in-service day prior to the start of the school year. Without an operating system in place, teachers were not allowed to prep in their rooms unless within 100' of a building exit. 3 points.
  • 4th scenario: Similar to 2nd but the main controller on the system failed on a Monday morning during the school year. The vendor was not able to install a replacement until the following Monday. School had to be closed for several days before the school was able to put a temporary alternative system in place. 0 points.

Frequently Asked Questions: