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School bandwidth becoming crucial


Education is depending more and more on computing resources. The problem didn’t surface overnight and won’t be solved quickly or cheaply.

Arkansas school districts from the smallest to the largest will need more and better access to bandwidth to meet national education standards that are being implemented. State officials attempting to determine how much money schools will need in fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015.

The common core standards are being implemented and should be in all grades by the 2013-14 school year. Online testing will begin with the 2014-15 school year.

We know it will cost more than the current $6,144 per student to provide the mandated adequate education to serve more than 468,000 state students.

It means that the White Hall School District will be spending more money to meet the “spectrum crunch” because of all those tablets and smartphones crowding the public airwaves.

The state still has not determined the schools’ capacity needs. The broadband problem needs to be fixed and fixed soon. The schools are waiting on the state to determine the amount of bandwidth they need at a price they can afford.

The problem can become more complicated quickly. If the district elects, for example, to move to e-books as replacements for expensive textbooks, that could mean providing laptops or tablets to each student and teacher in the impacted schools.

Those additional computers will require additional bandwidth. For comparison, to carry more vehicles, Interstate 530 is widened from four- to six-lanes. Some of the additional bandwidth will take Exit 32 to White Hall High School and Moody Elementary, while Exit 34 will carry the addition bandwidth to White Hall Middle School and Taylor and Gandy elementary schools.

If demand is up at the middle school, bandwidth must be shifted from other schools. Demand required by the state is keeping educators across the state awake some nights.