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Denton ISD Adds Wi-Fi on School Buses
Denton ISD covers more than 180 square miles compelling its students to spend countless hours on school buses daily. In 2021, Denton ISD implemented a district-wide initiative to address the “digital divide” concern among school-aged students. Since that time, the district has committed to becoming one-to-one by providing laptops for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade to ensure district-wide access to the digital tools and resources necessary to participate in classes whether in-person or remotely.
This fall, the district has taken that notion a step further. Recently, Denton ISD partnered with the broadband internet connectivity company Cradlepoint, based in Boise, Idaho, to provide free Wi-Fi on all 206 school buses in its fleet.
Adding Wi-Fi to all school buses provides wireless solutions that allow bus riders to stay connected beyond the classroom walls. Whether traveling home on buses after school or to nearby communities on the night of a ball game or a UIL-sanctioned fine arts contest, students will now be able to complete any outstanding assignments or work on a homework assignment while riding the bus.
“When we travel to away football games, our band members can spend an average of two and a half hours riding on our school buses,” said Brian Wilson, Denton High director of bands. “We have band contests in Princeton which is located along the far eastern edge of Collin County and those bus rides can last as long as three hours total time. Travel time to UIL area round band competitions similarly take three hours roundtrip as well. The amount of time our band, cheer, and student-athletes can spend on a school bus adds up quickly each week.”
Band students at Braswell High currently travel along FM 380, a road that is heavily under construction for the next few years. When the Bengal Band makes trips to Saginaw or Plano East for band competitions, those are typically multi-hour bus rides. Round trips bus rides to the UIL area round competition are easily three hours or more.
“We see this as another resource for our students to be able to utilize their district-issued Chromebooks or other devices to complete coursework while riding home on our school buses,” said Dr. Sheryl Alden, executive director of transportation. “Since we do cover such a large amount of real estate in our district, we know there are students of ours who do not have connectivity at home or ones who spend a significant of hours on a school bus to get home and this is just another resource to help those students on their educational journey.”
Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service provides Denton ISD with the capabilities needed to manage its in-vehicle work. Through purpose-built ruggedized routers, NetCloud offers enterprise-class reliability, manageability, and security and allows cohesive management using the LTE and 5G edge.
Funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband services for school buses was obtained using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Wi-Fi installations on the district’s full fleet of school buses began this spring and the work was completed during the summer months.