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Lucia Mar schools to upgrade to faster, stronger Wi-Fi internet this summer

How Lucia Mar is expanding its Wi-Fi 'highway'

The Lucia Mar Unified School District is expanding its fiber network this summer so that it can offer Wi-Fi at all its schools. For a simple explanation of how the current network works, one school official says to think of it like a freeway expan
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The Lucia Mar Unified School District is expanding its fiber network this summer so that it can offer Wi-Fi at all its schools. For a simple explanation of how the current network works, one school official says to think of it like a freeway expan

Lucia Mar schools are getting a Wi-Fi upgrade.

Work will begin this summer on pulling out and replacing the district’s existing fiber network so that all the district’s schools have access to faster, more efficient wireless internet.

The current fiber is outdated and restricts internet speed and how many access points the district can have, said Andy Stenson, Lucia Mar’s assistant superintendent of business services. Because of this, Wi-Fi access at some of the schools is “sporadic at best,” he said, while others don’t have it at all.

“Think of it like a two-lane freeway,” Stenson said. “The way we are using technology today, we are putting too many cars — meaning computers — on that freeway, and it’s backing up. It’s slow and difficult to get anywhere.”

The problem got so bad that the district asked its schools two years ago to not add any new Wi-Fi access points, and none have been added since.

This is getting us off the ground, but it is not the final step in becoming a modern school district.

Andy Stenson, assistant superintendent of business services

The school district is planning to rip up the existing fiber this summer and replace it with a new, more efficient product, Stenson said. The district then will begin adding Wi-Fi access points at the high schools, the middle school and finally the elementary school level.

“To continue the metaphor, we’re essentially building a 10-lane freeway like you would see in Los Angeles,” he said.

The entire project is expected to be completed by 2018 and will cost an estimated $1.5 million for the hardware and $4.4 million for installation. The money for the upgrade is coming from about $7.4 million in one-time funds from the state for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years meant to help improve technology at schools.

22 milesof fiber will be replaced

Stenson stressed that although adding Wi-Fi is an important step — not only for creating more modern learning experiences for the students but also because state standardized testing is entirely computerized now — it is only the first step toward updating the district’s technology. He said once the increased internet access is available, the district will begin looking into other ways to provide new technology to classrooms.

“We’re building a new freeway, but we need to put cars on that freeway,” Stenson said. “This is getting us off the ground, but it is not the final step in becoming a modern school district.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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