[Chtechcomm] Program wires students to school

Terri Buckner tbuckner at ibiblio.org
Mon Nov 28 10:26:28 EST 2005

Great job Bob!

  Program wires students to school

    Northside site of pilot Wi-Fi initiative

November 28, 2005

After a year of discussion, Wi-Fi is coming to Chapel Hill — at least 
for students housed in the Craig/Gomains units in the Northside 

The Chapel Hill Town Council recently approved a pilot project to give 
the students access to school resources on the Internet using the 
Connect 2 School program through the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School district.

“The town has been researching the viability of a citywide wireless 
initiative for many months and they are still continuing to do that,” 
said Ray Reitz, the head of information technology for the school district.

“This is kind of an offshoot from that project to see if the town could 
connect more public housing additions in our town.”

Wireless access has been limited to some users who have the resources 
and equipment to use the wireless signal.

At a meeting earlier this year, comments were read from a letter written 
by a University student who had tutored school-grade students.

In the letter, the student claimed that students who have access to the 
Internet are in a much better position to learn and have a much greater 
interest in doing so.

“The idea presented was that if we could provide greater access to 
Internet resources that students would be the beneficiaries of that,” 
said Bob Avery, the director of information technology for Chapel Hill.

Avery said the schools had been offering students loaner computers to 
help connect to school resources, but difficulties arose when students 
lacked Internet access.

The council’s Monday meeting resulted in the Town Council deciding to 
place a wireless access point on Craig Street and provide students 
living in the Northside housing units with personal computers and 
wireless access adapters, if needed.

Council member Jim Ward noted that Craig/Gomains’ status as a low-income 
area was attractive to the council for the site for the pilot project. 
“This is a way of giving them access that maybe economically advantaged 
kids have routinely.”

“It’s particularly important that we model our project (here) so that we 
are demonstrating that we are trying to make this resource available to 
everybody regardless of their economic needs,” he said.

The funding for the project will come out of the Information Technology 
Department’s existing budget. By keeping the Internet access restricted 
to only educational purposes, officials said the costs will remain 
relatively minimal for such an endeavor.

Reitz said if the pilot is successful, the town will look to provide 
access to other public housing areas, as well as other neighborhoods.

“If there’s a capability to go beyond that, we’ll certainly look at 
that, but right now, we’re not trying to predict the outcome. We’re just 
going to try to learn from the process.”

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