County schools upgrade internet speeds with grant money

Schools throughout San Benito County have improved internet capabilites thanks to funds received through the Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant.

In the 2015-2016 school year, the state budgeted $50 million for network infrastructure improvement for schools and districts, which were selected through an application process reviewed by the K-12 High Speed Network, in consultation with the State Department of Education and State Board of Education.

Some of the major highlights of local projects from this one-time funding include: a 10 GB redundant circuit installed at SBCOE which allows for districts with higher data demands to receive one GB connections while lower demand districts receive 100 MB connections. For the SBCOE this is 10 times the speed previously available and for some districts this has resulted in internet speeds up to 1,000 times faster.

Also negotiated as part of the BIIG, is a next generation firewall that can handle a 10 GB passthrough as well as filter out illegitimate traffic and intrusions. Prior to these improvements, some school sites struggled to test one classroom at a time. Now an entire school can test simultaneously while all other required technology systems will continue to operate as intended.

Trenches for fiber optic cables, the erection of microwave towers, electrical and low-voltage systems, as well as various hardware installations, are some of the ongoing and completed tasks.

“The BIIG grant has made a tremendous impact on Tres Pinos School in becoming technology literate. We have moved from internet that never was reliable to internet that is never down or interrupted,” said Bronson Mendes-LoBue, the superintendent and principal at Tres Pinos Union Elementary. “We have been able to incorporate a student information system which allows teachers and office personnel immediate access to a wide scope of student information from demographics to discipline and grades.”

The total cost of county projects falls between $1 million and $1.5 million, with all covered by the BIIG. Included in that, specific site costs range from approximately $350,000 at Jefferson Elementary School District to $55,000 for Southside School District.

Parents encouraged to participate in LCAP Survey

San Benito High School District officials are urging families to participate in a Local Control and Accountability Program survey, which is available in both English and Spanish.

“Each year, the District asks for your feedback regarding SBHS’s practices and programs,” said Elaine Klauer, Director of Educational Services. “Your feedback will assist the District as it updates the actions and services we implement to ensure academic success and school safety for all students.”

The survey, which can be found on the San Benito High School and District websites, will be open until April 13.

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