LOCKHART, Texas - Lockhart ISD will provide wireless internet for all students and staff throughout Caldwell County, thanks to a LISD Board of Trustees vote Monday.
The board voted 7-0 to approve budget amendments enabling the district to obtain seven network towers, an action the district says is in direct response to the lack of adequate internet coverage students need for distance learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A recent survey of parents regarding internet access showed that only 60 percent of students have internet access, leaving the other 40 percent unable to participate in online learning.
The district says it will partner with Particle Communications for access to three existing towers in Dale, Luling and Seawillow, which will begin to provide internet service within an eight-mile radius to students and staff by the end of April. The district will also build four new towers at Strawn Elementary, Fentress, Maxwell and Uhland, for a total of seven providing internet coverage countywide by the end of July.
The district says the total cost, which includes the setup fee, installation of routers in up to 500 homes and internet service for the first year, is just under $450,000, and the annual cost of service in the following years would total $60,000 per year. The district also says for additional homes, the cost would be an additional $22,250 for each additional 50 the first year, then $6,000 for each year after that. The school district recently redirected district internet to be available in the parking lots of its campus as an option to those without service, but the Board action this evening ensures this will not be necessary for much longer.
In addition to approving the budget amendments for the network towers, the Board approved for every classroom to have mounted projectors. Students in every classroom will now be able to benefit from the projectors during instruction when normal school operations resume.
Lockhart ISD launched new instruction today through Lockhart Distance Learning. For those unable to access the internet, the district prepared paper packets and says it will continue to provide this option as long as necessary.
The internet service will be managed to ensure service for instructional programming only, restricting access to non-educational websites, says the district. The first phase of students to benefit will begin access in April with the entire county covered by the end of July.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 12 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.