UPDATE AUGUST 13, 9:30 P.M.: The CCSD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the purchase of “Connect2Compete” connections for qualifying students in CCSD households. This approval is for the period of one year up to the approved amount of $4.8 million.
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Clark County School District’s Board of Trustees will meet Thursday to discuss purchasing millions of dollars in internet services for students.
According to the consent agenda item for Thursday, the CCSD is proposing to purchase in-home internet connectivity services from Cox Communications for $4.8 million. The purchase would serve up to 20,000 connections for qualifying students in CCSD households, and would last a full year.
The district is also looking at purchasing hotspot internet connectivity services from Kajeet for $1.8 million. It would serve up to 5,000 mobile hotspots for qualifying students in CCSD households and would also last a year.
According to a document on the school board meetings website, the Cox Connect2Compete program for CCSD will provide students high speed internet and online safety software tools.
The hotspot services will ensure students living in outlying or rural areas, as well as those living in areas with limited coverage, have internet connectivity.
It was noted in both documents that these tools will support the district’s distance learning approach for the school year. “In order to support the District’s distance learning needs and the long-term goal for 1:1 device distribution, some households will require home internet with Wi-Fi for students to be connected to the CCSD learning management system, communication and collaboration systems, and online tools and resources to participate and succeed with their distance education.”
Jim Frazee, a Centennial High School teacher, said the connectivity issue was larger than he expected. He noticed internet access challenges last semester among his students.
“When you had several children in one family, that added more issues for bandwidth to actually be able to do your work,” he said.
Spring Valley High School Principal Tam Larnerd said plans to address the digital divide are “long overdue.” He hopes the hotspots will be enough for kids to make it through the school day, saying:
“Hopefully, it will have enough data so students can start in the morning and get through their last class of the day and do their independent work without running out of data.”
Some educators call the recommendation a step in the right direction.
“We need to make sure that every student has that ability to get online and learn virtually,” said Marie Neisess, president of the Clark County Education Association.
Frazee encourages disadvantaged families to seek the support if the proposals pass.
“You have to raise your hand if you have needs,” he said. “There is a difference between pride and false pride, and we’re going to get through this together if you raise your hand and say, ‘hey, I need some help.'”
The district recommends paying Cox with general funds and coronavirus relief money and using grant or general fund money for the hotspots.
We reached out to Cox Communications, and a spokesperson told us a few details are being finalized and the company does not want to comment before Thursday’s board meeting.
The proposals are not approved yet. The Board will meet Thursday at 5 p.m. to discuss them.