School District Receives Technology Support From State

Leland School District recently received their allotment of technical devices from the Mississippi Legislature through two Mississippi Connects laws, the  Equity in Distance Learning Act (SB 3044) and the Mississippi Pandemic Response Broadband Availability Act (HB 1788). The goal of the two laws is for every student in the state to receive the technology needed to learn at school and at home. Districts placed orders to purchase 320,000 computer devices and an additional 70,000 devices were ordered outside of the program. Also, the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) approved the methodology to distribute $50 million to districts through HB 1788, which provides grants to Mississippi school districts, independent schools and Native American tribal schools to expand broadband access in unserved areas of the state. Funds have been allocated to districts based on FCC data of homes without broadband access and the districts’ population of students receiving free or reduced lunch. HB 1788 will provide broadband access support to 75% of public-school households and more than 20,000 independent school and tribal school households. Districts and schools determine how to best use the funds to increase broadband access. Strategies may include the purchase of hotspots, cell towers and equipment to strengthen broadband power in schools or other community access points. “The unexpected need for distance learning provided Mississippi with an opportunity to reimagine the digital learning experience and create an innovative approach to getting students what they need to learn, whether in a classroom or at home,” said Carey Wright, State Superintendent. Mississippi Connects components include laptops or tablets for students and teachers to use at home or school. Districts select Chromebooks, Windows laptops, MacBooks and/or iPads. Also included are highquality instructional materials, learning management systems and other online learning tools. All software, security and support features come pre-loaded and configured for immediate use. Enhanced internet connectivity in areas of the state where students do not have broadband service is part of program. Districts will use funds to purchase services such as data plans and hotspots or to expand broadband access in community locations accessible to students. Professional development and technology support for teachers and students to implement distance learning and student access to telehealth and teletherapy services for their physical, social and emotional health are also part of the program.- Leland Progess LLC