WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (5/1/13) - Work is underway to bring the Webster County School District’s technology into the 21st Century. T & D Solutions of Clay is handling the installation of fiber optics, which will connect all of the county’s schools to an established hub in Union County.
In September school officials announced that they had received a half million dollar grant from the Universal Services Fund, an agency of the Federal Communications Commission. The fund is set up to provide and improve communications and internet access to public schools.
“This is a giant leap forward in terms of internet access to the county schools system,” said Riley Ramsey, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Technology for Webster County Schools. “It places our students in line with most other students in the Commonwealth in having high speed internet access, as the present system is a T-1 line (one mega-byte) to our outlying elementary schools; this fiber optic project is a giga-byte line (a thousand mega-bytes) which is a huge speed increase.”
The new higher speed service will offer WC students opportunities that are not currently available to them. Like the possibility of taking advanced classes that are not currently offered at the high school because of limited bandwidth issues. With the new system it will be possible for students to “sit-in” on advanced Chemistry, Physics, or Foreign Languages through UK, U of L, WKU or Murray State University; with the possibility of receiving dual-credit for both high school and college level work.
The schools will be getting their internet access from MuniNet, a subsidiary of the Paducah and Murray Electric Companies. After the fiber project is complete the school district’s cost will be half the cost of what the district is currently paying for internet service. Additionally, the contract between the school district and MuniNet stipulates that as long as the district is a customer, the rates will never increase.
Dr. James Kemp, Superintendent of schools, gives credit to the Board of Education for their proactive stance of encouraging technology funding for our students. Jeff Pettit, Mickey Dunbar, Leland Steely, Tim McCormick, David Higgins and former Board members have all enthusiastically supported technology projects for students in our schools.
“Monies for this federal project can only be spent on fiber and internet equipment,” Dr. Kemp added. “It cannot be spent on staff salaries, fixing other equipment or construction of buildings.”
Having fiber optic connections throughout the county could also benefit the residents of Webster County, according to a source with MuniNet. As the school will only use a fraction of the transmission capabilities of the lines, that will leave a lot of unused data available. This could provide opportunities for future products such as residential and commercial fiber optic internet, new telephone services and even new television providers or enhancement of the existing television service.
Of course these are just possibilities, no plans have been made to offer any of these services.
The fiber optics lines are expected to be installed and operational by the start of school in August of 2013.
J-E News Editor
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