District Administration October 2017 - 57

Albemarle County Public Schools in
Virginia, meanwhile, collaborates with
the city of Charlottesville to install free
Wi-Fi in laundromats. The district is also
adapting its Education Broadcast Spectrum (which formerly showed show educational TV programs) to provide basic
internet connectivity in rural mountain
communities.
In North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reaches out to municipalities to close Wi-Fi "deserts"-highpoverty neighborhoods with no broadband. So far, it has enlisted more than 80
organizations to provide home internet to
nearly 700 low-income families.
And in California, the vast Coachella Valley USD-a socio-economically
challenged district where some students
spend 45 minutes per day commuting to
school-outfitted more than 100 school
buses with Wi-Fi.
Following the ride home, some buses
are parked in mobile home communities

to create a Wi-Fi hotspot, which gives
parents-many of whom are learning
English-a chance to work on homework with their children.
"I don't know if a school district can
solve the problems of every low-income
family," says CoSN's Krueger. "But by
working together with the community, it
can do really creative partnerships."
Empowering parents
The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District just outside of Minneapolis-where
55 percent of students qualify for free
or reduced-price lunch-works with its
local internet providers to increase awareness about low-cost access availability.
The district recently joined T-Mobile's
EmpowerEd, a program for Title I
schools where at least 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price
lunch. It enabled the district to equip 250
families, or about 5 percent of its student
population, with portable hotspots.

The district also partners with public
libraries to ensure secondary students
have a library card to access print and digital research resources. And the district's
efforts to bridge the equity gap go beyond
simply providing more access. Johnson
leads tech classes for parents that focus on
digital citizenship, home device management and setting limits on student use,
among other subjects.
Classes include interpreters for the
community's large Spanish-speaking and
Somali populations.
"It's great to have thousands of educational resources to access," says Johnson.
"But if the parents aren't aware or know
how to use them with their kids at home,
you're still experiencing a digital divide
that's perhaps more profound than with
hardware or connectivity." DA

Ray Bendici is special projects editor.

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October 2017 57


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration October 2017

District Administration October 2017 - Cover1
District Administration October 2017 - Cover2
District Administration October 2017 - 1
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