WISD to extend outdoor wireless infrastructure

Weatherford ISD is in the process of extending wireless infrastructure to be used further outdoors at school campuses.

WISD’s board of trustees approved the purchase of extension equipment during their meeting last month. The cost of 72 external access points, antennas and associated licensing costs the district about $65,400. The price is reduced by almost half because of Category 2 E-Rate funding.

The extension will allow teachers to extend their classrooms past the school building, Executive Director of Technology Cody Lee said. With the extension, teachers can take their classes furtheroutdoors and still have access to the internet, if needed.

“The two art classes in [Hall Middle School] have roll-up doors so that the students can actually step outside and draw and do whatever they do in natural daylight, so a lot of the kids will go out there and either surf the internet to grab ideas or anything that they would use in that class, and they use those outdoor areas a whole lot,” Lee said. “That’s where we first startednoticing that we were having a problem covering with our internal access points.”

The extension is also beneficial to some science classes which need outdoor space, and it allows students to go outdoors and work on school assignments, Lee said.

Lee said the infrastructure should be installed by early summer at the latest. Installation includes hanging weatherproof access points outside school buildings and plugging it into cabling indoors.

The equipment has been available at Kangaroo Stadium for about a year and has been able to help people connect to the internet during games and events, Lee said. Depending on each school building, the coverage could extend several hundred feet whereas it reached 20-40 feet before.

The extension is also supposed to expand wireless access for Hopspot, which is internet access available to students and community members after school hours, Lee said.

“The Wi-Fi Hopspot project gives us the opportunity to provide students, who don’t have internet access at home, the opportunity to do research and to complete assignments by accessing free Wi-Fi outside of campus buildings after the school day and on weekends,” WISD Superintendent Jeffrey Hanks said.

Board President Mike Guest said providing students with free internet access is “critical” to their academic success.

“Approximately 20 percent of our students don’t have access to the internet at home,” Guest said. “This Wi-Fi access is another way that WISD is giving our students more opportunity and the tools for growth and success.”