LISD to provide internet to all students

LISD to provide internet service to all students countywide
Posted on 04/06/2020
District News Release

DATE: April 6, 2020

LISD to provide internet service to all students countywide

At a special meeting of the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees Monday evening, the Board voted 7-0 to approve budget amendments that enable LISD to obtain seven network towers to provide wireless internet to all LISD students and staff throughout Caldwell County.

Areas covered by 7 network towers

The action is in direct response to the reality of the lack of adequate internet coverage for many students at a time in which distance learning is necessary due to the impact of COVID-19. In a recent survey of parents regarding internet access, results revealed 60 percent of students have internet access, leaving the other students unable to participate in online learning, even as the school district has passed out Chromebooks to students in need.

LISD will partner with Particle Communications for access to three existing towers in Dale, Luling, and Seawillow, which will begin to provide internet service within an eight-mile radius to LISD students and staff by the end of this month. In addition, the district will build four new towers at Strawn Elementary School, Fentress, Maxwell, and Uhland. In total, seven towers will provide internet coverage countywide by the end of this July.

The total cost for the seven tower setup fee, installation of routers in up to 500 homes, and internet service for the first year is $447,500. The annual cost of internet service in subsequent years would total $60,000 per year. For any homes beyond the initial 500, the cost to the district would be an additional $22,250 for each additional 50 homes the first year. The annual cost of internet for subsequent years would be $6,000 for those additional 50 homes. 

“As our leadership began planning for distance learning in response to COVID-19, we learned  how many of our families either have unreliable internet or no internet service at all,” said Superintendent Mark Estrada. Parts of Caldwell County are “dead zones,” with no service available by any provider. “Because of the urgency, our leadership team took swift action to review options and identify a solution to bring to the Board for approval. I am grateful to our Board for fully supporting the budget amendments that enable us to more immediately address this issue as quickly as possible. Moving forward, however, it also enables us to fulfill the long-held district vision for the future of providing every student a device, becoming a 1:1 school district, and growing our LISD Visionary Instructional Plan (LISDVIP) initiative.”

The school district recently redirected district internet to be available in the parking lots of its campus as an option to those without service, but the Board action this evening ensures this will not be necessary for much longer. 

In addition to approving the budget amendments for the network towers, the Board approved for every classroom to have mounted projectors. Students in every classroom will now be able to benefit from their teacher’s use of the projectors during instruction when normal school operations resumes. 

“This is about equity. Every one of our Lockhart Lions needs to have access to the opportunities they deserve to grow and truly thrive,” added Superintendent Estrada. “With the actions taken tonight, we are demonstrating our Board and leadership’s commitment to ensure every learner in Lockhart ISD has access to an equitable and excellent education.” 

Lockhart ISD launched new instruction today through Lockhart Distance Learning For those unable to access the internet, the district prepared paper packets to cover the topics their peers are learning online. The district will continue to provide this option as long as necessary, but the Board’s actions this evening ensures this will not be needed once the towers are built and fully operational. 

“This is certainly a game-changer for our students,” said Superintendent Estrada. “The fact is, however, that some of our own staff live in parts of the county where providers are not currently providing service. This will help our staff as well, who continue to provide instruction during the school closure.”

The internet service will be managed to ensure service for instructional programming only, restricting access to non-educational websites.  The first phase of students to benefit will begin access in April with the entire county covered by the end of July.


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