Grapevine and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD may partner on a project to ramp up Internet and local network connectivity for both entities in the coming years.

GCISD board members learned in June about possibilities for a fiber optic network upgrade that would run the high-speed connectivity infrastructure around Grapevine. Grapevine City Council members learned of the effort Aug. 5. A potential interlocal agreement between both agencies would split the projected $5 million upgrade cost and spread it out over a series of annual budgets.

Grapevine's technology managers said the city's needs for a better network are clear. The current system, which includes limited fiber around the center of town and a stationary wireless system that serves its traffic system, has reach its effective limits. Investigating possible upgrades led them to contact GCISD because the path for the fiber network runs in close proximity to the district's schools.

GCISD Superintendent Robin Ryan spoke to the council Aug. 5, holding up both his laptop and his cell phone to help make a point about the proliferation of wireless devices. He said more students are bringing more devices to the district on a regular basis, driving the need to expand the schools' connectivity capabilities.

Lane Hunnicutt, director of the district technology services division, told trustees in June that the partnership plan is the best possible path for meeting GCISD's future tech needs. Capacity costs to move from 1 gigabyte to 10 gigabytes would increase exponentially through district's current lease agreement with Time Warner, he said. The plan with Grapevine is significantly cheaper, and the proposed project would create a network that the city and school district would own.

"It makes a lot of sense for a city government and it makes a heck of a lot of sense for a school district," Grapevine City Manager Bruno Rumbelow told council members.

Ryan said the district would incur up to $1 million in costs annually just for 10 gigabytes of capacity without the plan being discussed.

"The minute Bruno [Rumbelow] and I had a conversation about this, we were both very, very interested," Ryan said. "It makes a lot of sense."

Grapevine's technology department could manage almost the entire installation and maintenance program for the fiber network, as well, officials with the department said, outside obtaining the equipment to bore conduit paths.

"The fact you can do so much of that work in-house and staff knows what they're doing is phenomenal," Grapevine Council Member Duff O'Dell said. "You are to be commended. That's great."

Rumbelow said with the council's go-ahead on Aug. 5, the city and school district would draft an agreement and explore the possible costs and financing for the project for a future vote.