San Luis Coastal Unified School District will outfit all of its elementary schools with Wi-Fi by the end of summer.
The San Luis Coastal school board in November approved spending the $1 million needed to equip the district’s 10 elementary schools with wireless access to the Internet, which will make using laptop computers and other digital devices in classroom feasible.
Thoma Electric of San Luis Obispo was recently hired to do the initial planning and engineering work for the project.
Wi-Fi was installed at Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo and Los Osos Middle School last school year.
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“We thought we would move to the high schools next but we were getting so many requests from the elementary school sites that we decided to act there first,” said Ryan Pinkerton, assistant superintendent of business services for the district.
The district's two high schools, San Luis High School and Morro Bay High School, have Wi-Fi hot spots on campus.
Rick Mayfield, principal at Pacheco Elementary School in San Luis Obispo, said parents, students and staff have been asking for more access to technology in classrooms for years.
“We honestly don’t do a lot with technology and really needed to change,” Mayfield said. “This is way overdue.”
Mayfield has already ordered iPads for one classroom, and the PTA plans to donate the $30,000 necessary to outfit two additional classrooms with them, he said.
“The level of engagement will go up,” Mayfield said. “There are so many students excited by technology.”
The cost for each elementary school is estimated to be $50,000 for infrastructure, $50,000 for hardware such as fiber, switches and other controllers and $20,000 for other project costs.
The school district is considering putting a bond on the ballot in November to do major facility upgrades at the two high schools. Installing Wi-Fi infrastructure would likely be included in those improvements.
“Eventually we see all of our students with a device,” Pinkerton said. “That is where education is going.”