Some local school buses could soon be fitted with WIFI

·2 min read

Students might have another way to pass the time on long school bus rides.

District School Board Ontario North East (DSB1) voted 6 to 4 in favor of a joint pilot project with Northeastern Catholic District School Board, and Conseil scolaire public du Nord-Est de l'Ontario that would provide 10 school buses with WiFi services on the trip to and from school.

Superintendent Lisa Edwards presented the program to the board of trustees at the May 2 meeting.

The pilot project has been quoted a cost of $14,355.70 from Kajeet to outfit 10 buses with WiFi receivers.

Kajeet is a mobile network operator that provides wireless internet connectivity in multiple industries including education and healthcare.

Trustee Steve Meunier saw the advantage to the program, despite costs.

“It’s a great idea, I agree there are some financial implications that go with it,” he said. “Students would benefit from this.”

The cost would be split between the three school boards involved by percentages, with DSB1 covering 70 per cent of the cost, due to having the largest ridership.

The receivers would be put on routes where students travel for more than 45 minutes one way to school.

“I see this as an equity issue that we can have a little bit of impact on,” said Trustee Larry Wiwchar, regarding the project. “We have, compared to the rest of the province, students who travel great distances and have very lengthy times on the buses and giving them an opportunity to do something constructive on a few of those long distance buses would be a worthy assessment on the impact we could have.”

Trustee Jonathan Byer raised concerns about where the funding for the project would be coming from and what other options students have for doing school work on these rides.

“The students have the ability to download their homework at the school before they go on the bus, so if they wanted, they could download the work onto their tablets and do any work they need to on the tablet without Wifi,” he said. “I have a hard time justifying the cost for the gain out of this.”

Trustee Rosemary Pochopsky addressed the idea that having Wifi available for the longer routes would give students something to do during those daily trips.

“On a long run, it will give students something to occupy their minds, hopefully doing their homework,” said Pochopsky. “It’s only the long distance routes, and I think it would help.”

The project requires a unanimous decision from the three school boards to move forward.

The tri-board vote to put the pilot program into action needs to be unanimous among the three boards and will occur on a later date.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,