School officials talk about $12 million internet upgrade

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 4/09 7:47 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- The Washoe County School District has $73 million of bond money to spend by 2017. Their plan to spend $12 million on wireless internet is raising some questions about their funding priorities.

Only eight of the 93 schools in Washoe County have Wi-Fi that allows every student to be online at once. District officials say that's the future of education, and spending this money will make sure each kid has the same access.

"I think it's important that they're on a level playing field with everything," said Washoe County School Board Trustee Dave Aiazzi. "But [with] technology, certainly, we can see some schools that are lagging far behind other schools."

Mamie Towles Elementary is one of those schools.

Principal Rhonda Van Deusen said they have about 30 computers for about 400 students.

"They only get in [the computer lab] once a week for half an hour," she said. "That's not enough for all of our kids to practice their 21st Century learning skills."

Aiazzi said those skills are increasingly important, and schools need Wi-Fi to support that learning.

"What's happening in the future of education is textbooks will be online from now on," he said. "So you need the bandwidth for all these students to be able to read their textbooks, so we don't have to buy textbooks."

"If it was up to me we'd go to a one-to-one program," said WCSD IT Coordinator Mike Petre. "Every student would have a district provided device."

In order to get funding for new devices, Petre said first they need the infrastructure. While $12 million isn't cheap, he says it's reasonable.

"Every year we renew our bid for networking equipment to ensure that we're getting the best prices," Petre said.

But Van Deusen said this is about more than money.

"It shows our whole community how important education is," she said.

For Petre it's not just his job, it's his family's future.

"I want to make sure that our teachers have the best tools to teach our children," Petre said. "My kids go to public school and I want to make sure that they have every opportunity to learn, to succeed and to be prepared for the world that they're going out into."
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jeaniebobb - 4/9/2014 8:53 PM
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Maybe we need to teach them to read and write first
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