District : Bloomington Public Schools District 87
State : Illinois
Level : P-12
District Enrollment : Less than 1,000 students
Community Type : Suburban, Urban
Related Tags : Connectivity, equity
Ensuring Home Connectivity for All
Bloomington, IL’s District 87, located in the heart of the state is home to a diverse student population. With 52% white, 22% African American, 12% Hispanic, 9% multiracial, and 5% Asian, this 20-school district had a 2014-15 student population of 5,615 students. Approximately 56% of its students are considered low-income.
District 87 began equipping Bloomington Junior HS with 1:1 devices so every 6th, 7th, and 8th grader will have a device.
The district saw the challenge as one of equity and social justice. Equipping students with devices when they had no home connectivity appeared inherently inequitable to the district’s superintendent who recognized not everyone has transportation or means to visit somewhere that has WiFi.
The district will be providing home Internet access to any 6-8 grade student who qualifies for free or reduced priced lunch beginning with a pilot of select classes for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year and all qualifying 6-8 grade students in 2015-2016.
The district is currently funding these home Internet connections through curricular funds and hopes to engage a community group to secure donations when the program is fully implemented in fall of 2015.
Through a partnership, a local Internet Service Provider contacts the identified family and sets up a time to connect the household. Participating households are connected to the district’s Internet connection, rather than the consumer connections. This insures district filters are still in place for students accessing content from home. The program is estimated to cost $100,000 annually if all eligible families participate.
- Be sure your infrastructure can accommodate the increased demand.
- Engage with local ISPs in a conversation about what it would take to develop a program to make sure all students have equal access.
From District 87:
- Interview with District 87 Superintendent
- Article: District 87 offering free at-home web access to students
From the U.S. Department of Education:
District Point of Contact