One of CVUSD’s vehicles used as a mobile hotspot.

property managers in order to park the bus. For those communities that received a bus hotspot, Adams said that the district made a type of “partnership agreement,” where the communities agreed that if the district placed a bus there, the residents would agree to protect and take care of it. He added that some of the community managers have access to the bus keys because they wanted the ability to be able to enter the bus and shut off connectivity at night to ensure students are not up late. “We just work together to make sure we’re maintain- ing that bus,” he said.

An issue that quickly became apparent with the parked buses was the fact that heavy data usage would very quickly drain the school bus battery. So Adams, a former musician, got creative once more. “I figured we’re in the desert, we have plenty of sun, put a solar panel on the thing,” he said. “If you think outside the box and are creative, there’s a solution for everything.”

Te district also decided to make use of salvaged district vehicles, such as vans and other buses, and park them around the community as hotspots. Adams said that the district has seen very positive

results since the start of the program. High school graduation rates have jumped from just below 70 percent to approximately 82 percent. Discipline problems have decreased because students are now focused and engaged. “I’ve been told we’re the second poorest district in the nation. So for them to have access to learning, to online classes to research, to communication, collaboration, it really is a game-changer for our students and families,”

he said. “Tey’re no longer at a disadvantage. I tell them, ‘You’re no longer in the column of the have-nots, you’re in the column of the haves.’” All of the district’s 100 buses are now equipped with

wireless connectivity. Adams said that the district is looking to become its own internet service provider in the future. Te efforts of Adams and his staff were spotlighted by

President Obama at a ConnectEd conference in 2014. “Tis is really smart,” Obama said at the time. “You’ve got underutilized resources—buses in the evening—so you put the routers on, disperse them, and suddenly everybody is connected. Now it’s not just students that can get online. It’s their families as well.”


Another school district that has implemented wireless connectivity on the school bus is Beekmantown Central School District in upstate New York. Te idea for this program came about a year and a half ago during a conference that Superintendent Dan Man- nix and Gary Lambert, director of 21st century learning were attending. Representatives from Kajeet, a wireless provider, were discussing their Wi-Fi offerings for school buses. Te district had already previously worked with the company in order to provide mobile hotspots for students without access at home. Te two decided to find out more about the Wi-Fi option. Using a portion of grant money, they decided to bring connectivity to six buses.

Lambert said that the district’s mechanics took care of

52 School Transportation News • JUNE 2016

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