$145K Grant Aids Virtual Students

$145K Grant Aids Virtual Students with Internet Connectivity, Provides District Savings
Posted on 02/23/2021
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Broadband grant student with computerLakota Local Schools was proud to put to work a recent grant that covered the entire cost of 180 new Chromebooks complete with integrated Internet capability. Most of the devices have already been deployed to Lakota’s fourteen K-6 schools for students lacking a device and Internet connectivity to access digital resources while learning at home.


“This school year has brought about many challenges for our families without devices or access to the Internet in their homes,” said Lakota’s Chief Operating Officer Todd Wesley. “By way of mobile hotspots, we’ve been committed to getting those students the access they need, but this grant has allowed us to expand our offering and provide devices complete with integrated Internet to better meet student needs.” 


The district was awarded almost $145,000 through the BroadbandOhio Connectivity grant. Along with the new integrated Chromebooks, the grant funded the first semester cost of the district’s additional Internet hotspots available to students. Before the newest Chromebooks became available, students in need of a solution for at-home learning have been able to check out the hotspots from their school’s Innovation Hub with guardian permission. While some of those devices remain, the new Chromebooks including built-in filtered Verizon LTE data access have replaced many of them. 


“This is a game-changer for our youngest learners,” Wesley said. “The built-in internet streamlines access to digital learning resources and makes getting connected that much easier for them.” 


Liberty ECS Principal Carrie Montgomery referenced a student who was able to use the new device at daycare for a remote learning day, allowing her to be on Zoom calls with her class, rather than missing them all together.

 

“The grant has definitely helped our students connect in an easier and more efficient manner,” Montgomery said. “It helps equalize the playing field from some of our learners and even helps our parents empower their students to use their resources for learning.”


“It has been an exciting year for technology and these new devices have eased access for our All-Stars as at-home learners,” shared Adena Elementary Principal John Mattingly. “Lakota continues to knock down barriers to learning and instruction and that is the silver lining that has come out of this pandemic. Our teachers and our learners have really built their muscle.”


The grant provided some unexpected, but welcome financial support as well.


“We always appreciate working with the state of Ohio to expand learning opportunities,” added Lakota’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Jenni Logan. “It’s wonderful to see these grant funds directly supporting the needs of our students.”


The grant was made possible by the Ohio Department of Education, in collaboration with BroadbandOhio. It is an extension of Ohio’s response to the federal CARES Act, which in Ohio has set aside $50 million of state funding to provide hotspots and Internet-enabled devices for students through December 2021. Qualifying schools had to apply for the funds through a grant application process.