SAN ANGELO, TX — At the Oct. 16 San Angelo ISD board meeting, the proposal to add Wi-Fi to 28 school buses was unanimously approved. Wi-Fi 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.
Eight “charter” style buses like the one pictured above will be outfitted, and 20 of the newest traditional yellow buses will be Wi-Fi capable once the equipment is installed.
AT&T and Verizon will provide carrier services for the Wi-Fi —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 Wi-Fi project from General Fund, Special Projects.
Three bids for the Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi.
AT&T and Verizon will provide carrier services for the Wi-Fi, 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.
The picture is courtesy of James M. who has taken pictures of many of the school district activity buses across west Texas and New Mexico. See his pictures here.