SAN ANGELO, TX — At the Oct. 16 San Angelo ISD board meeting, the proposal to add WiFi to 28 school buses was unanimously approved. WiFi will be made available for middle school and high school students.
Charlyn Doyle, Director of Technology for San Angelo ISD, reported cost for converting 28 buses is as follows:
The cost of start-up is $45,035.73. This includes cost of equipment, installation, and a $699 yearly fee for management of the system/web filter. This cost also includes 9 months service for the data plan, and telecom and administration fees.
$12,700.21 is the annual recurring costs for each school year’s 9 months of service for all 28 buses after the first year.
AT&T and Verizon will provide carrier services for the WiFi —one alternating for the other depending on coverage. The system will also include filters that prohibit students from accessing certain non-curricula websites.
The school district draws funding for the WiFi project from General Fund, Special Projects.
Three bids for the WiFi were scored, with Kajeet--GTS Technology Systems being awarded the contract. Awards are based not only on cost, but ease of doing business going forward. GTS Technology is headquartered in Austin.
Project start time and completion depend on how quickly purchase orders will process between SAISD and Kajeet—GTS.
According to the Transportation Department at San Angelo ISD, the bus fleet accumulated 650,000 miles of travel in 2016. According to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Jana Reuter, “The greatest benefit to the student is having access to online instruction,” making it easier to complete homework as they travel to and from activities.
For example, travel to Amarillo for athletic functions is about a 9 hour drive, round trip—dead time without the student having access to WiFi to complete homework. It isn’t uncommon for students to arrive back to San Angelo late in the night only to face another hour or two of homework.
The Huntsville ISD and Midway ISD also equipped 15 buses on their fleet with WiFi.
AT&T and Verizon will provide carrier services for the WiFi, either one as an alternate depending on coverage. The system will also include filters that prohibit students from accessing certain non-curricula websites.
Charlyn Doyle, Director of Technology for San Angelo ISD said that plans are underway to secure electronic devices for those students who may not own devices.
In terms of making technology more widely available for Texas students, Gov. Greg Abbott recently announced a goal of broadband Internet access for all 5.2 million Texas schoolchildren by 2018.
Eight “charter” style buses like the one pictured above will be outfitted, and 20 of the newest traditional yellow buses will be WiFi capable once the equipment is installed.
When we started Kajeet in 2003, we wanted kids to be agile with technology, to be empowered and safe, and we wanted to help them respond with confidence to what's happening in their world. Not incidentally, we want parents, educators and guardians to be involved too. Being part of the mobile world is not just fun, it’s a shared responsibility.