Federal grant helps students stay connected

December 9, 2021 cbrown

Federal grant helps Battle Ground students stay connected

Dec. 8, 2021

Battle Ground Public Schools will make substantial upgrades to student technology and connectivity thanks to a nearly $1.4 million grant from the Federal Communication Commission’s E-Rate program. The funding was made possible through the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a $7.17 billion investment in school and library technology approved in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help schools provide devices and connectivity during the COVID-19 emergency period. 

“This is an amazing opportunity for the district,” said Scott McDaniel, the district’s Director of Technology Services. “Upgraded Chromebooks and working internet connectivity are two critical resources necessary for student success; both are tools that can really accelerate learning and increase student engagement.”

Student on Chromebook

The district currently maintains approximately 12,000 Chromebooks and 1,300 internet hotspots, part of a 1:1 initiative started in 2016 and completed during the 2020-21 school year. All students in grades 6-12 can take a Chromebook home during the school year. Grades 2-5 have access to a personal Chromebook while at school and K-1 students have one cart of Chromebooks available for every two classrooms.

Battle Ground chose Chromebooks for student technology use because they are easy to manage, cost-effective, and compatible with the Google suite of education apps that the district has used for the past ten years. BGPS has been recognized as a Google Reference District for demonstrating excellence and leadership through the innovative use of technology to drive impact and positive learning outcomes.

The 1:1 initiative allowed Battle Ground Public Schools to more quickly pivot to remote and hybrid learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and allowed students to remain engaged during the summer. Many students used their Chromebooks during the summer break to take advantage of online learning applications designed to improve math and language skills.

The Emergency Connectivity Funds will allow the district to purchase 1,900 new Chromebooks. Most of those will replace existing units that are obsolete or nonfunctioning. In an average year, the district replaces around 1,200 Chromebooks that are no longer receiving security updates or are unable to be repaired. The district will also submit monthly internet hotspot costs to be reimbursed from the grant. The cost to provide hotspot service while students were learning remotely was approximately $650,000.

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