The district is working with the county to install equipment to bring their capacity up to 10GB, and in the process of doing so, Adams has begun exploring the idea of the district becoming its own Internet Service Provider, through a process called self-provisioning, taking connectivity for the entire community out of the hands of third party service providers like Time Warner and Comcast.
“If a third party service provider can provide a low-cost option for my community, I’m willing to work with them,” explains Adams. “But the goal is 24/7 access, and we need to find a way to provide that not only at my district, but across the state and the nation.”
It’s the issue of connectivity that best demonstrates Adams’ knack for making the impossible possible. While Adams works to get approval from the state and the FCC to light up existing dark fiber, which is unused fiber run by electrical or gas utilities, and connect directly to the state network, he is also in contact with the FTC, advocating for the approval to use E-rate money to buy connectivity for students’ homes.
In October 2014, the district put their first Wi-Fi equipped bus in service, allowing students to stay connected during their 40-60 minute bus ride. The districts full fleet of 100 buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi over the next 12 months. In addition to providing connectivity on the road, the busses will be parked in trailer home parks that currently lack an internet connection, providing 24/7 access for students who live in those locations. The program was one of the ones singled out in President Obama’s ConnectED speech.
“This is really smart,” Obama said. “You’ve got underutilized resources—buses in the evening—so you put the routers on, disperse them, and suddenly everybody is connected,” Obama said during the speech. “Now it’s not just students that can get online. It’s their families as well.”
Adams described the remarks as “humbling,” but it’s all part of a larger vision he’s working to realize. “Technology plays a huge role in my vision, and if you’re not going to give me what I need for my kids,” remarks Adams, “I’m going to do it myself. I am not going to deny them their education. My job as a leader is to open the doors that allow the experts on my team do what needs to get done in order to make 24/7 connectivity a reality for our students.”
Jennifer Welch is a contributing writer for eSchool News.