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Fort Worth ISD students one step closer to better Wi-Fi after board approves agreement

The district is aiming to help students in communities with limited or unreliable internet access.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Editor's note: The above story is from an earlier story.

Some students and families in Fort Worth ISD will receive a better internet connection after district leaders approved an agreement at a board meeting Tuesday.

The Fort Worth ISD Board of Education approved the rental of three mobile trailers, not to exceed $163,000, to raise temporary cell tower sites in three neighborhoods over the summer in time for the 2021-2022 school year.

The district is aiming to help students in communities with limited or unreliable internet access. The stronger internet should be in place by the first day of school on Aug. 16, the district said.

"Fort Worth ISD serves a very diverse student population,” said superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner last month. “We’re rich in diversity. We have a diverse socioeconomic range we serve, and this focus from an equity lens, doubling down and investing in those communities in the greatest need first, we believe is the right thing to do.”

Fort Worth ISD spokesman Clint Bond said the plan was sparked by the academic disadvantage that was underscored by the pandemic. But. with the new towers, Fort Worth ISD said it hopes to close that gap.

“We know that we have significant number of students and families within our communities that don't have reliable or robust service, as far as the internet is concerned,” Bond said.

"There are parts of our city, believe it or not, where there is touch and go internet, and then there's places where there's absolutely no internet,” he added.

The trailers, the district said, will help lift required wireless equipment higher into the air while more permanent mounting poles are being erected on the grounds of Dunbar High School, Morningside Middle School and Rosemont Middle School, the district said.

This is considered Phase One and it will help 25% of the families most in need of internet service, the district said. Phase Two is scheduled to start in December and will address the other 75% of targeted families in ZIP codes 76102, 76103, 76104, 76105, 76115, 76119, and 76164, the district said.

So just how many families will be able to use the free internet after both phases are complete? Bond said their estimates are based on how many families used district hot-spots during the pandemic, so it’s at least 21,000, but likely more.

The project is funded by a tax ratification election approved by voters in November 2020. The TRE funded the district's Wi-Fi plan and thousands of laptops and hotspots for families without internet access.

The first phase will cost between $3.3 and $3.6 million.

Dallas also has a free community Wi-Fi program available developed during the pandemic. To check on the availability of the community Wi-Fi program, go to dallascityhall.com.