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P-12

District : Coachella Valley Unified School District

State : California

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : 10,001-40,000 students

Community Type : Rural

Related Tags : Connectivity, equity

Busing in WiFi

Coachella Valley Unified School District near Riverside, CA (situated in one of the poorest sections of the country) has roughly 19,500 students – 100 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-priced meals – spread out over an area larger than the state of California. Additionally, almost 50% of Coachella students are identified as English language learners. The district rolled out a 1-to-1 learning technology initiative during the 2013-14 school year, equipping all students from pre-K through high school with an tablet computer and adding laptops and computer labs across Coachella Valley’s 22 schools. To support that program, and help students and teachers get the most out of those devices, the district upgraded their digital infrastructure, adding more access points and increasing Internet bandwidth. All of this was funded through a $42 million technology bond.

The Challenge

Given the high-poverty status of the students and families Coachella serves, the district faced a challenge of home connectivity for the 1:1 devices students were bringing home. This, combined with the difficulties of high-speed broadband Internet connectivity across large geographic spaces, meant Coachella would need a unique solution while the larger infrastructure in the region is developed.

The Solution

To provide connectivity to students when they are out of school, the district has outfitted 2 school buses as mobile hotspots with 90 planned to be outfitted by the project’s end, estimated to cost around $290,000. The buses are parked overnight at sites throughout the community such as trailer parks. The buses provide WiFi access to students with limited home connectivity so that they can connect to work on their assignments.

Tips

  • Ideas for sustainability: Consider putting solar panels on top of the school bus so that there is plenty of power throughout the night for WiFi users.
  • Implementation Tips: Work with private landowners to determine where you can park your school buses at night.


Additional Resources

From Coachella Valley Unified School District:

From the U.S. Department of Education:

District Point of Contact:

Phone: 760-399-5137
Twitter: @C_V_U_S_D

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