- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Students at Richfield High School in southern Idaho have been given access to wireless Internet while in class, but officials say there’s not enough bandwidth available to support it.

District officials hope to address the problem in May once computer-based standardized testing ends, the Times-News (https://bit.ly/QUOTI8) reported Monday.

Richfield is among more than a dozen Magic Valley school districts that have wireless Internet access paid for by the state.

Statewide, schools that opted in last year to receive wireless Internet should have equipment up and running, said Melissa McGrath, spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Education. The service is covered under a $2.25 million a year state contract with Education Networks of America.

More than 80 percent of Idaho’s public high schools are participating. Under the contract, the deadline to install equipment was March 15, but by February only about half the schools that signed up had had the equipment installed.



McGrath says it’s not uncommon for districts to need more bandwidth than expected, and the state will work with vendors to address those needs.

Richfield Superintendent Mike Smith compared his district’s bandwidth situation to installing irrigation equipment on farmland.

“We have the pivot, but just don’t have the water here yet,” Smith said.

Smith said he’s hoping wireless will be fully functional by mid-May. The kindergarten through eighth-grade building already has wireless, which the school funds.

School officials plan to use grant money to buy mobile devices for classrooms.

“We are trying to get devices into our teachers’ hands to improve our instruction,” Smith said.

Twin Falls high schools had wireless equipment installed in February.

“It has been a welcomed addition to our schools,” said Brady Dickinson, the director of operations for the Twin Falls school district.

In past years, some high school teachers created their own wireless hot spots in classrooms. Elementary and middle schools already have building-wide access.

Now that high schools are on board, Twin Falls district officials can move forward with a five-year technology plan.

“Our goal now is to put more devices into the classrooms,” Dickinson said, such as Chromebooks.

The goal is one mobile device for every two students. That would be balanced out with a bring your own device policy.

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Information from: The Times-News, https://www.magicvalley.com

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