MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Governor Asa Hutchinson released $10 million for WiFi Access for students across the state, a step Rivercrest School District Superintendent Sally Bennett appreciates the state taking.
“I am very optimistic that this is going to benefit our students and make that access much easier,” Bennett said. “The money is from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund which is money from the CARES Act.”
“That is all federal dollars, no state dollars,” Hutchinson said.
The money is for about 20,000 Wi-Fi access points for students across the state, that will have up to 24 months of high-speed unlimited data.
“It is going to provide some free devices and beyond that, internet connectivity at a reduced cost for other families,” Bennett said.
She said with the free digital content provided for students, this will help make a difference as districts continue new learning throughout the new school year.
“The full functionality of that state-provided curriculum really is most realized when you have full internet access,” Bennett said.
It will also help if districts have to close again due to COVID-19.
“This just is going to provide a seamless transition should we have to make changes in our instructional delivery methods,” Bennett said.
While this is a good first step, Bennett said people should not let up on the effort to expand internet access to rural Arkansas.
“Because I don’t think this is going to fill all the need,” she said. “This is going to meet many of the needs but we’re still going to need to continue to work with providers to push for access in rural communities.”
There are still some questions on how the program will be implemented, but Education Secretary Johnny Key said a memo will be issued on Tuesday.