TEMPLE -- Four students from the Temple Independent School District got out of class Tuesday morning to advise the Texas Senate Committee on the importance of students having home WiFi. One in four Temple students do not have internet connectivity in their homes but the school district has been working to help.
For the last two school years, TISD had a state education grant that funded "Mi-Fi" devices -- small Wi-Fi access points that students could take home. Funding for that grant expired this year.
The school district also worked with the City of Temple and five local apartment complexes to provide free Wi-Fi access points at those locations. This served around 200 students who needed home internet, but in a school system of 8600, the district is looking for more ways to improve the area. Whatever the solution is, however, it will require more funding.
"The Mi-Fi evened the playing field for those kids," TISD Technology Director Luann Hughes said. "If you're a parent and you want your children to be successful in school and in college I believe it's going to be a necessity that they learn to manage the internet well and use it well."
Temple is not the only school system working to close the home internet gap. Midway ISD is working with Grande Communications to get free or reduced cost to some of the seven percent of their kids without home internet connectivity.
Across the U.S. 16 percent of adults that make $20K to $50K rely on a phone for home internet. For those under $20K, 21 percent have only phone internet access.
TISD hopes that the Texas legislature will keep these numbers, and their students, in mind as the work on the budget next year.