Dallas ISD shifts focus to longer-term home internet solutions for families who need it the most

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After outfitting approximately 33,000 Dallas ISD families with mobile internet hotspots and ordering 10,000 more to support immediate remote learning needs, the district is shifting its focus to longer-term home internet solutions for families who need it the most.

Dallas ranks sixth in the country–and number one in Texas– of urban cities with families without home Internet access. And with the pandemic making Internet connectivity necessary for everything from education to health services to employment, district officials said they will continue taking aggressive action.

“We view broadband connectivity as a racial equity issue,” Chief Technology Officer Jack Kelanic said. “The digital divide disproportionately impacts our Black and Brown students.”

After spearheading the initiative in May, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa was joined by state lawmakers and the Texas Education Agency for Operation Connectivity, which has provided connectivity services for nearly a half million students statewide. Dallas ISD also joined The Internet for All coalition to address the issue locally.

“Collaboration is key to this effort, and we are thankful for our partners and ongoing community support,” Kelanic said.

With its next strategy, the district will work with commercial internet service providers to install wireline services in the homes of low-income families. This effort–which is subject to the availability of commercial service, local CARES Act funding, and family approval–could begin as soon as December.

Another long-term solution under consideration is constructing private cellular networks for up to five Dallas ISD school communities –Pinkston, Roosevelt, South Oak Cliff, Spruce and Lincoln high schools – where data indicate the highest need. The private cellular networks would provide high-speed access to the district’s educational resources to families living in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the schools. The Board of Trustees is expected to consider this project at its November meeting.

“We remain committed to providing equitable access to technology resources for all of our students” Kelanic said.

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