Fire damages high school so kids will be going online for some classes

Bring me the News reports on the results of fire damage in a school in St Cloud…

Apollo High School in St. Cloud is facing an unusual set of challenges due to a fire that damaged parts of the school in July.

The July 11 fire started in a classroom and caused significant smoke damage throughout the school. Last week, health inspectors informed school officials that parts of the school will not be ready for the start of the upcoming school year.

But they have a plan to go online…

“We will begin the school year on an alternate day schedule,” said District 742 Superintendent Willie Jet on Monday. “This means that students will rotate the days they will physically attend Apollo. Students not at Apollo will engage in on-line learning directed by their classroom teachers. Fortunately, every high school student is provided with a one-to-one device which makes this opportunity possible.”!

Jett said they worked with the Minnesota Department of Education and schools around the state that have experienced “similar catastrophic situations” to come up with the plan.

I was worried that plan was going to be a hardship for families that didn’t have broadband access at home, but it turns out they have a plan…

Students that don’t have access to Wi-Fi outside of school will be provided with hotspot devices, according to Apollo Principal Al Johnson.

Wouldn’t it be nice if those families got to keep the hotspots even once the school is ready for a full schedule of students? Imagine how nice it owudl be for them to do homework from home.

 

A tool for schools: Finding the Broadband Internet Service That Works for Your Family

My colleague Bill Coleman has created an awesome guide to help parents and students find the home Internet connection that best fits their needs, in terms of bandwidth and price. Actually, it was created with schools in mind. While the guide can be used ASIS, it’s really a template and the idea is that a school might help fill in the local blanks. For example, help list the providers in the area.

Now is a good time to share it. School is starting soon. All of us parents are starting to buy good shoes, get kids to go to bed early, do those things you need to do to make for a smooth first day. And for some families that may mean getting online or looking for an online upgrade. It’s also the time we’re getting notes and reminders from the school – a reminder that included tips on how to get the best broadband could be very useful – especially if you’re school provides devices for the students.

Toolkit to help Close the Homework Gaps for kids without broadband

Consortium for School Networking has a great toolkit for residents, schools and communities who live outside the reach of broadband. I’ll borrow from the Benton Foundation’s description…

This toolkit provides background context for the Homework Gap, addresses broader implications of household connectivity, suggests resources for scoping the problem, and details five strategies districts are currently using to address these challenges: 1) Partner with Community Organizations to Create “Homework Hotspots”, 2) Promote Low-Cost Broadband Offerings, 3) Deploy Mobile Hotspot Programs, 4) Install Wifi on School Buses and 5) Build Private LTE Networks. In addition, it outlines four steps school leaders can take to collaborate with local governments and their community to take a broader, more holistic approach to digital access and inclusion: 1) Assemble a Team and Develop a Shared Vision, 2) Assess Existing Community Resources, Gaps and Needs, 3) Engage Stakeholders and Partners and 4) Develop and Execute a Project Plan.

Free broadband planning and funding application help for your school

Rural School Collaborative posts a good reminder about Education SuperHighway – they offer free broadband planning and help with funding forms. It’s free. So if your school needs help, it would be worth a call…

EducationSuperHighway is the leading nonprofit that is working to ensure every school across the country has access to high-speed broadband. There is no catch. Everything they do for school districts is free of charge, and they have worked extensively with rural schools and in rural communities in over 30 states.

If you have any questions or would like to receive support, contact Alyssa Cubello (alyssa@educationsuperhighway.org) or visit www.educationsuperhighway.org/accelerate to get in touch. EducationSuperHighway can help you:

  • Plan your broadband network upgrade
  • Research technology and provider options
  • Develop your E-rate Form 470 / RFP strategy
  • Evaluate bids and select the best provider solution

Additionally, you can watch their free webinars here to help you understand more about your available E-rate Category 2 budget, make best use of these funds, and run a successful procurement.

Federal bill introduced to spend e-rate funds on wifi on buses

According to a press release from Senator Udall (New Mexico)…

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced a bill to put wireless internet on school buses in order to help students without broadband access at home get online to study and do homework. The legislation would allow the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate program to reimburse schools that place wi-fi technology on school buses carrying students to school or school related extracurricular activities.

Looks like Minnesota might be a leader here too – the Minnesota Legislature decided to invest in wifi on the buses last year.

MN Library Services and Technology grants

Shared from the MN Department of Education State Library Services email news alert…

Now Open – Two 2018 LSTA Grant Opportunities

State Library Services is pleased to announce two 2018 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) competitive grant opportunities.

2018 LSTA Competitive Grant 
An estimated $545,000 is available to fund grant proposals ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 that help to achieve Minnesota’s LSTA Five-Year Plan (2018-2022). Grant awards will support projects that address LSTA Sub-goals A2, C3 and E2. The overarching goals are to reduce barriers to access, promote equity, and advance digital literacy.

2018 LSTA Mini Grant
An estimated $50,000 is available to fund grant proposals ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to help libraries offer programs and services that address Goal B2 in the Minnesota LSTA Five-Year Plan (2018-2022) and the World’s Best Workforce legislation by preparing all children for school and ensuring all third-graders can read at grade level.

Both grants periods are estimated to start on September 15, 2018, and end September 30, 2019.

To learn more about our two current LSTA grant opportunities, please attend an upcoming LSTA 2018 grant guidance webinar – Thursday, June 7, 2018, 2-3 p.m. There is no need to pre-register; just click on the link to attend. (Call-in toll-free number: 1-888-742-5095, Conference Code: 289 945 0924). Grant applications and instructions are available on the Minnesota Department of Education’s Grants Management site. Visit the LSTA webpage or contact Leah Larson (651-582-8604) for more information.

We are looking for reviewers for both grant opportunities to read and score applications and participate in a half-day review discussion (the discussion may not be needed for the LSTA Mini Grants). Please contact Leah Larson (651-582-8604) if you are interested in more information.

Saint Paul Public Library Extends to Giant Wash Coin Laundry

I love this idea – I stopped by the laundromat earlier today to check it out. There room was full and the vibe was great. Here’s the info from a press release from the St Paul Library

Mayor Melvin Carter III will launch the new “Wash and Learn” program at Giant Wash (1675 Rice Street, 55117) on May 12, 2018, at 11 a.m. Giant Wash Laundry will host a Free Laundry Day in celebration, and offer free wash and dry to community members who register between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. All attendees will have opportunities to participate in librarian-lead learning workshops and take home free books and educational resources.

“Wash & Learn is an example of the forward-thinking ideas and partnerships we intend to advance throughout Saint Paul,” says Mayor Carter. “Meeting people where they are with Library programs, materials, and resources makes perfect sense. It is through these unique partnerships and simple solutions that we build a city that works for all of us.”

SPPL partnered with Minnesota State Library Services and Libraries Without Borders (LWB), a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., to launch Wash & Learn at Giant Wash. The program aims to extend SPPL’s efforts to close the digital divide among residents of Saint Paul. LWB will install laptops and WiFi hotspots at the laundromat, alongside bookshelves with materials customers can read on site or check out and take home.

When I was there, they thought they might clean up to 20,000 pounds of laundry. It looked like the kids had just picked up on the computer and were pretty intent. And two kids had just won bikes. The plan moving forward is to have librarians in the laundromat a couple hours each Saturday until October. It’s a great opportunity to do some one-on-one digital and information literacy lessons. A great model for other communities. In fact turns out Stillwater will try something on Monday and Anoka County is looking at a similar program.