Many take for granted and assume that everyone has access to all of the world’s information at our fingertips through the technology available to us today. In Central California’s rural Lindsay Unified Schools District, where 100 percent of the district’s 4,200 students receive free and reduced price lunches, this was not always the case. To address this challenge, in 2015, we designed and implemented the Free Community WiFi program. Today, all of Lindsay's 4,200 students and their parents can access filtered Internet from their homes, free of charge.
The Free Community WiFi program aligned with our district’s core belief to prepare students for the 21st Century by doing all we can to ensure they are college and career ready. As educators seek to use technology to support the dramatic shift toward blended and personalized learning, having access to the internet isn't a luxury, but a need. Free WiFi helps eliminate the digital divide and enables students to complete assignments, hone critical research and technology skills, and virtually explore the world. It enables our English Learners to access web-based resources at home, which is essential to language development. Access to WiFi has also provided families the opportunity to monitor and support their children's learning while building their own digital prowess.
This program was not grant-funded or financed in any external way. We were able to repurpose budgets and avoid textbook adoptions to instead invest in digital formats and systems that support equity and all learners’ needs, giving us infinitely more bang for our buck. For us, community WiFi was a critical investment in the future of our students, so we figured out what we needed to do to make it happen.