Rural school districts waiting for more broadband funding
ELDON - Rural school districts such as Eldon and Fatima are waiting for funding for better broadband from the Missouri Connect and Learn Initiative.
School districts like these struggle to find funding for better broadband so their students and faculty have better internet access in the classroom.
The initiative is a partnership between the state and the Office of the Governor, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the national non-profit Education SuperHighway.
With more school districts trying to supply tablets for their students, a lack of fast internet makes these devices not as useful to students.
Chuck Woody, superintendent of the Fatima school district, explained that without reliable internet students cannot be as productive in the classroom.
“We’re really wanting to start the one to one initiative,” Woody said. “We want all of our students to have Chrome Books or iPads, but until we have better broadband that won’t be possible.”
Justin Uptergrove, a tech director for the Eldon school district, explained the difficulty teachers and students face with a lack of broadband during testing season.
“During testing time, I set up no streaming rules in our firewall,” Uptergrove said. “That entails that no one in the district can get on YouTube or Netflix or anything like that. I want to make sure that all of our bandwidth is solely being used by the math testing and EOC testing."
Uptergrove also explained YouTube is a resource many teachers use in their classrooms. This can be problematic during testing season because the internet is being tied up for testing purposes.
“When I turn that streaming rule off, every single year I get emails coming back saying, ‘what can I do?’” said Uptergrove. “Then they have to change their lesson plans.”
Woody explained better broadband in school districts will be a resource for students to learn more efficiently.
“This is another tool for them to put in their toolbox.”
Both school districts are on a waiting list for getting the improved internet access with no certain timeline.