Proving once again to be a leader in school technology, the Vail (Ariz.) School District is now providing wireless access in school buses. In early December 2009, the district installed its first wireless router attached to a cellular 3G network in one high school bus. Although the district paid for this out of pocket, officials hope to obtain a $15,000 Qwest Foundation Grant from Qwest Communications to fund routers in the 20 buses that run the longest high school routes.
In doing so, the district aims to extend classroom time for those students who have long commutes and live in rural areas that do not have access to broadband.
"We want to turn transportation time into classroom time," says Matt Federoff, chief information officer for the Vail district. "This will help breach the digital divide. We steal time away from kids transporting them back and forth, and it would be nice to give that back."
The district hopes to have these networked buses transport students who have to leave midday for athletic events and travel long distances. Vail will know in March whether it receives the grant, although according to Federoff, the district will find some way to make this happen regardless.
"This is the least expensive way to provide access to our students," says Federoff. "We are always looking for an opportunity to better serve our students."