No matter where a Brownstown Central Community School Corp. student may be, he or she will have access to the internet to complete assignments.
Wi-Fi hotspots are being distributed to bus drivers this week, allowing students an opportunity to work while they are riding on a bus to and from school and extracurricular events.
The hotspots also are being distributed to each school to be checked out through the library by students who don’t have internet service at home. That involves an application process, considering financial need, how many children are in the family and other factors.
This is made possible by a $110,742.52 grant from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund the corporation received in the fall of 2020.
GEER was established by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Traditional public school corporations, public charter schools, accredited nonpublic schools, higher education institutions and other education-related entities were eligible to apply.
An application could be completed by a single school corporation or a combination of eligible education entities.
Brownstown teamed with Lutheran Central School and Medora Community School Corp. in an application.
“We’re really happy to be able to do that,” Brownstown Superintendent Tim Taylor said of providing the hotspots for students.
“We have kids going back and forth to events and kids riding the bus for an hour to get to school and back,” he said. “Part of that also was if we would ever have to shut down again, we can take those and go put them in key spots in our community where we’ll have Wi-Fi access for our students. We’re excited about that.”
Taylor said Director of Technology Will Hubbard was instrumental in the grant application process.
Trustee Paul Borden praised Hubbard’s efforts, too.
“That’s great for those kids that don’t have that opportunity,” Borden said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the GEER fund recipients. The $61 million in grants is designed to improve connectivity and increase devices available to students and teachers.
Applicants submitted plans that included the purchase of student devices, including Chromebooks and iPads; new or upgraded laptops; MacBooks; Chromebooks and iPads for teachers; and MiFi devices with corresponding subscription plans for families who lack reliable internet connectivity.
The grants funded a minimum of 68,689 student devices, nearly 2,900 teacher devices and more than 85,800 connectivity solutions, according to the information provided by applicants.
Grant awardees included 184 traditional school corporations representing 1,366 schools, 64 public charter schools and 124 nonpublic schools. There are nearly 674,500 students enrolled in schools receiving these grants. Also, 12 institutions of higher education received more than $11 million.
The money funded specialized training to better support parents and families, students with special needs and English learners and provide social-emotional learning resources during virtual/remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiatives are designed to assist K-12 teachers, including targeted professional development opportunities for eLearning, curated curriculum content and technical assistance in implementing online curriculum. These resources were made available at no cost to teachers.
The 257 applications received were evaluated by a team from the Indiana Department of Education, Indiana Commission for Higher Education and Indiana State Board of Education.
“Indiana’s students, parents and teachers have worked hard to adapt to the challenges COVID-19 has brought to education,” Holcomb said.
“These emergency funds will enable Hoosier students to be more successful with remote learning,” he said. “Some families will now worry less about internet connectivity, more students will have access to the technology needed at home and more educators will have the necessary devices to teach remotely.”