Texas School District Broadband Funds Go to Laptops and Hot Spots

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When the pandemic kept children out of school buildings, a school district in south Texas realized that connectivity in the classroom was of limited value if students couldn’t connect at home. As GovTech reports, $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds has been earmarked for laptops and broadband connections for United Independent School District (UISD) staff and students.

The UISD has indicated that it will use the $9,746,110 it received to benefit the 43,000 students in the district. It intends to spend $6,804,624 purchasing 21,600 laptops for the students. Another $935,650 will buy 3,000 laptops for teachers and support staff. It also plans to invest $1,871,325 for 11,000 hotspots. An additional $63,999 will pay for 40 WiFi routers, with $70,512 allotted for equipping buses with WiFi.  

“Think how cool it is that you can use your WiFi device to do your homework,” said UISD Assistant Superintendent for Technology, Hector Perez. “You have to keep these kids engaged. An hour for them is an eternity. They have to be engaged.”

“I can assure you as part of the schools at UISD that our kids are using the devices,” added UISD Superintendent, David Gonzalez. “We have weekly meetings and do informal walkthroughs, and the technology that is going on in our schools is magnificent. It is happening. It’s one thing to get the funding and another to get the devices, but the proof is in the pudding.”

“The pandemic highlighted that internet access is essential for modern day education. Yet, too many children don’t have the internet access at home that they require for nightly school work,” said U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) when the announcement was made last week. “This funding will help ensure that every student has after-school access to the technology they need to do their homework.” 

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