While students are home spending Christmas with their families, Smithton Schools will be getting a gift of its own – increased wireless Internet access.
The school district received a grant from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), as part of a Schools and Library program for the U.S., according to Superintendent Matt Teeter. He said the grant is based off the number of students who receive free or reduced lunches in the district’s, and that most districts are eligible to apply.
Smithton qualified for a $59,000 grant for improving the building’s wireless infrastructure, with the project costing a total of $104,000 through local company SMC. Teeter said SMC will work on the wireless infrastructure over the district’s Christmas break.
“We are installing all new switches and then we are installing new access points. We’re going from having 12 access points to 30 access points,” Teeter explained. “Because of this new wireless infrastructure, we’re looking at doing voiceover IP phones. We are hoping to have that in in the spring. The new infrastructure will also help in attaining that goal, which is part of our strategic plan.”
The Smithton district owns almost 150 Google Chromebooks, something it didn’t have about a year ago, plus other laptops, and with the increasing demand, this recent grant will help update the district to a better overall system to help support educational technology. Teeter said it’s been an increasing need for the district.
“Not everyone can use (wireless in the building) so that’s a huge piece to this,” Teeter said. “This gets phones in classrooms. Our teachers don’t have phones in classrooms so that allows our teachers to have access in classrooms to connect with parents as well.
“… We had a lot of different pieces of equipment and now the new system allows for us to be a better overall system, be able to communicate more effectively with each other. We will have wireless access throughout the whole building, which is not currently the case, and it will allow us to support more instructional technology than ever before. It’s exciting to me and it’s good for the kids.”
Teeter added that the new infrastructure will also allow the community to have access to the district’s wireless connection with a dedicated line for the public when they visit for various events.
“There’s an opportunity to connect, continue to try to develop the school as a resource for our community,” he said.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.