Several Clark County schools receive over $420K for Internet access

Global Impact STEM Academy Middle School Art Instructor, Ms. Angela Detwiller, connects with her students remotely from her classroom. CONTRIBUTED
caption arrowCaption
Global Impact STEM Academy Middle School Art Instructor, Ms. Angela Detwiller, connects with her students remotely from her classroom. CONTRIBUTED

Several Clark County schools are receiving more thatn $420,000 to to use to expand their access to the Internet.

The grant is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Education and BroadbandOhio, according to State Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield).

The grants are to help schools provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students during the 2020-21 school year. They can be used for various technology needs, including home internet services, hotspots with a service plan, mobile hotspots and public WiFi infrastructure.

“With nearly one million Ohioans lacking a reliable internet connection and about 300,000 households having no broadband options whatsoever, these grants provide necessary aid to students and families during this time of remote learning,” Koehler said. “I am hopeful that these grants will provide schools and students the electronic infrastructure they need to be success this school year.”

The Springfield City School District received the largest amount at $151,466.16.

“The district appreciates any additional funding that allows us to better serve our students,” said Springfield Superintendent Bob Hill. “To better serve our families and students with both in person and remote learning, the district purchased 4,500 Verizon hotspots, enough to supply approximately one per SCSD family, at a cost of approximately $750,000. The Broadband Grant will help offset that cost.”

ExploreNortheastern to transition in-person learning students to 4 days a week starting Monday

The Northeastern Local School District also received the same highest amount of $151,466.16.

“We plan to get hotspots out to students who chose the full virtual option and have connectivity issues at home. We will prioritize our students who qualify for free and reduced lunch first when distributing hotspots," said Northeastern Assistant Superintendent Shawn Blazer. "We will also use the grant to purchase access points that can be installed in our parking lots so students can access the building WiFi in the event of a closure. We are also looking at costs to create mobile hotspots to install on our school buses.”

Those two districts are followed by Cliff Park High School receiving $42,410.53 and Global Impact STEM Academy receiving $22,416.99.

“Currently, we are live-streaming classes during the school day where students interact with their instructors and peers in real-time each class period, which requires an Internet speed to which some families have limited access,'' said Josh Jennings, Director of Global Impact Stem Academy in Springfield. "This grant is being used to purchase hotspots and Internet service for all of those families.”

Jennings said connectivity is a necessity in the current learning environment and even before receiving the grant.

“Global Impact already made the commitment to provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to families who needed them. We’ve always been a one-to-one school in which every student is issued a laptop; however, these devices certainly have limitations if a student cannot connect from their home, so the hotspots are essential to the success of our students, as is the funding to purchase them,” he said.

ExploreClark County receives $260K grant to demolish New Carlisle school

Other schools that were awarded include $21,811.13 to Clark-Shawnee Local School District, $19,140.00 to Southeastern Local School District, $7,558.00 to Catholic Central Schools, $4,500.00 to Nightingale Montessori Inc., and $2,000 to Emmanuel Christian Academy.

“We have purchased 50 hotspots and the cellular plans that support these devices using the grant money. This will be helpful for families needing reliable internet for remote learning,” said Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Brian Kuhn. “We are working to determine if additional cellular-enabled devices might be needed to ensure access to curriculum and instruction.”

Kuhn said the biggest problem with the grant is that the funds cannot be spent past Dec. 31.

“This means that grant funds can only cover the cellular service until that time. The district is responsible for the remaining cost of the year-long service plans... Our grant dollars only cover 1/3 of the service plans for the hotspots and the grant rules prohibit us form prepaying for the service," he said.

These grants were awarded based on an application process that started in August. This funding is also meant to assist specific groups, and applicant schools were required to show how they intended to aid economically disadvantaged students, vulnerable children and youth, students with chronic illness and student who do not have other access to internet services, according to Koehler.

Grants awarded to schools in Clark County:

Springfield City Schools - $151,466.16

Northeastern Local - $151,466.16

Cliff Park High School - $42,410.53

Global Impact STEM Academy - $22,416.99

Clark-Shawnee Local - $21,811.13

Southeastern Local - $19,140.00

Catholic Central - $7,558.00

Nightingale Montessori Inc. - $4,500.00

Emmanuel Christian Academy - $2,000.00

About the Author