District : Coachella Valley Unified School District
State : California
Level : P-12
District Enrollment : 10,001-40,000 students
Community Type : Rural
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
From Coachella Valley Unified School District:
- Hechinger Report: What to do for kids with no internet at home? How about parking a wifi-enabled school bus near their trailer park?
- CBC Radio: If the kids don’t have wi-fi, the school bus will it bring it to them
From the U.S. Department of Education:
District Point of Contact: