Lynwood Unified School District has been awarded $440,000 in Local Agency Technical Assistance (LATA) grants by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), allowing the District to break down learning barriers by providing digital equity for all students.
The funds from the grant will be used to develop and complete a citywide broadband feasibility study that determines the viability of launching a broadband service in the City of Lynwood. The study will include a needs assessment, environmental and engineering studies, network design, strategic broadband plan development and other associated costs.
“This is a big first step for us to create a partnership that envisions that any student who is enrolled in a Lynwood Unified school will be provided with free or affordable high-speed residential broadband internet until graduation,” said Dr. Patrick Gittisriboongul, Assistant Superintendent of Technology and Innovation.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the digital inequities faced by students in the District, as many lacked access to a connected device and broadband connection during online instruction. Other households were found to be entirely without an internet subscription or computer access.
While every Lynwood Unified student now has one device to use at school and home, as well as access to a mobile hotspot as needed, that type of connectivity is not always suitable for online learning with limited, slow and unreliable connectivity speeds, Gittisriboongul added.
In an effort to reduce these digital inequities in homes, Lynwood Unified and the City of Lynwood partnered with SiFi Networks to build an open-access fiber network called ONE Lynwood, in the hopes of bringing free and low-cost broadband to the community. The LATA funding will help support the developmental and operational costs of the network and broadband efforts.
“Equitable access to reliable high-speed internet is imperative to bridging the digital divide and helping improve our students’ quality of life,” Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite, Ph.D. said. “Thank you to the CPUC for helping us provide these vital resources to our students.”