District wins grant for School Bus WiFi program

Alachua County Public Schools has won a grant from the Florida Education Foundation for its School Bus WiFi program. 

The Foundation notified the district today about the $5000 grant, which is being provided through the Distance Learning Innovations Mini-Grant Program. 

“In reviewing your proposal, we appreciated the evidence of impactful innovations that will benefit students and educators, and the clear connection to the state’s priority to provide high-quality education,” wrote the Foundation’s Executive Director Bethany Swonson in the award letter.

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The district launched the School Bus Wi-Fi program on April 20. Hot spot devices were installed on district buses, which spend three hours every weekday at 45 high-needs neighborhoods throughout Alachua County to provide free Internet access to children doing school work while schools are physically closed.

The district worked closely with DRMP, Inc, a firm that provides infrastructure consulting services to public and private entities, to select sites based on number of students, poverty levels and other factors. 

“Our goal was to support more families who don’t have access to reliable or high speed internet,” said Superintendent of Schools Karen Clarke. “We’re very pleased both by the recognition for the program and for the financial support this grant provides.” 

So far more than 600 devices have logged on to the School Bus WiFi program. The district has already distributed more than 3500 devices to families across the district, and continues to make them available. Families who still need devices should call their child’s school.

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