Lauderdale County schools to expand internet access

The Lauderdale County School District will soon offer expanded internet access after the board on Thursday approved an emergency purchase of additional broadband coverage. 

Funding for the project comes from an $836,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Education designed to help districts expand broadband access for students in underserved areas.

Trent Airhart, director of technology, said the expansion of campus Wi-Fi will improve access on campus, point-to-point wireless hotspots at the North Lauderdale Water Association will improve access for the community and mobile hot spots will improve access for individuals. 

He said the current WiFi on school campuses will be replaced and upgraded, costing about $393,000. The district will purchase additional hot spots from T-Mobile, so students, teachers and staff will be able to take the hot spots home with them, Airhart said. That part of the program will cost about $240,000.

Airhart said the district will pay for antennas to be installed on water towers near five fire stations around the county. Those hot spots will offer coverage as wide as a football field, he said. The spots will also have designated areas for students and the community to use for WiFi access. 

Other matters

In other matters, Southeast Middle School principal Brittney Chaney provided updates to the board.

Chaney's goals include getting all students reading at grade level; encouraging all students to be involved in after school activities and increasing parental involvement. 

Chaney said in-school suspension will be replaced with a program called behavior academy, where students will have assignments that focus on good behavior. 

“When they go to behavior academy, they will learn new behaviors,” she said.

The school is also planning on adding interventionists for each grade level, she said. 

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