The New Rochelle school district will be providing free 24/7 WiFi in the homes of students, according to a recent school board resolution.
During the most recent board meeting IT Director Dr. Christine Coleman addressed Resolution 12-148 “Mobile on the Go (EDU) 2011 Pilot Program, a program to “narrow the digital divide in our urban school district and increase student achievement in reading and writing by providing off-premise, ubiquitous 24/7 wireless internet access through mobile devices.”
The program costs $555,595 of which $439,335 will be covered by federal taxes and the remaining $116,260 will be covered through local taxes. Schools involved are Columbus, Jefferson, Trinity, Isaac and New Rochelle High School.
In April 2009, the New Rochelle Board of Education was touting a program to give 110 laptops to 5th graders at Jefferson School. At the time, Talk of the Sound raised many doubts about this program, among them the decision to buy into a brief fad for “mini” notebooks by which was meant under-powered machines which required internet-connectivity to operate for productivity software (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.).
The Journal News wrote:
The district appropriated about $39,000 from this year’s budget to give 110 Dell Inspiron Mini laptops to the students. Minis and similar laptops are surging in popularity across the country for their cost and mobility. A 9-inch laptop can retail for about $300.
In the Spring of 2009, Talk of the Sound noted:
If the home does not have high-speed Internet access then the student will not be able to access Google (well, they can on dial-up but it will be so painfully slow as to be largely unusable). So, for students without broadband Internet access they are not going to be able to access Google docs, shared documents, collaborate with other students or send/receive email until they get back to school.
Coleman now says there are 140 laptops at Jefferson not 110 as stated originally. She also said that her department discovered that many children did not have wireless internet access at home and so to bridge the digital divide the district now needed to provide free WiFi at home for these children.