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Leon Schools Rolls Out Buses With Hotspots

A school bus outfitted with a mobile hotspot unit
Lynn Hatter
A school bus outfitted with a mobile hotspot unit

The Leon County School District has rolled out 15 school buses equipped with mobile hotspots and placed them in neighborhoods across the county. Getting online has been a challenge in both rural and urban areas of the state. The Leon School district continues offering to pay internet bills for families without access and still has open slots for that program. State Rep. Lorrane Ausley (D-Tallahassee), says the hotspots are just a temporary fix to a broader problem.

“This is not going to work in areas where there is no internet. So this is a big issue and it’s something that has to be addressed and has to be addressed now," she said.

Ausley co-sponsored a bill that requires the state to examine ways to improve internet access and get a clearer picture of where connectivity is lacking. The bill is waiting to be sent to the governor.

The Leon School District has mobile hotspots in Woodville, Fort Braden and Chaires. The rest are in neighborhoods such as Orange Avenue Apartments. The district is also still offering to pay internet bills for low-income families.

“We still have open slots in our partnerships with Comcast and century link. So I don’t know if that means parents still don’t know we can assist them, or if it’s leveled off,” said district spokesman Chris Petley.

I imagine it hasn’t leveled off….but right now we haven’t been asked by parents the access question as much as in the past.”

The offer is still on the table, Petley says.

The sites for the hotspot buses were chosen based on how many students are in areas that may have more need than others. Three buses will be in Woodville, Fort Braden and Chaires. The other 12 are located within the city and will be on-site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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