BOE Fodder: Fixing Spotty Wi-Fi inside GHS; Providing Greenwich Students with Wi-Fi at Home

spencer faragassoIn his remarks at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, GHS Student Government president Spencer Faragasso drew some gasps when he gave an update on the state of Wi-Fi within Greenwich High School.

Faragasso said he had asked students to identify specifically where Wi-Fi is either ‘very weak’ or ‘non-existent.’

“Students commented that the Wi-Fi is very slow and nearly impossible to use in almost all areas of the student center, the science wing, and all of the houses — so, basically, the entire school,” he said, to a few gasps from the audience. “There are a lot of improvements that need to be made.”

Faragasso said one student specifically commented that an online quiz was delayed 15 minutes due to the inability of the Wi-Fi to work, and another student couldn’t take an online CPR exam because of inability to get online. He said that at GHS, Wi-Fi is especially difficult to use when students are moving between their classes.

“Overall the Wi-Fi needs to be drastically improved in almost all areas of the school,” Faragasso said.

During the Superintendent’s remarks, Dr. McKersie said, “I think Spencer may have overreached a bit on how spotty it is. Phil Dunn is working with others on that,” he said referring to the head of IT for the district.

Dr. McKersie said Mr. Dunn had struck a relationship with Apple in which the Apple store will stay open in evenings exclusively for Greenwich parents. “Not  as a sales move,” he said but to share expertise with parents.

McKersie said that Mr. Dunn has also been working actively through PTA Council to help parents work with parents. “Parents helping parents can help digital learning succeed. It’s not an outcome, it is a tool for advanced learning.”

Before the vote to approve the Greenwich Schools 2016-17 budget on Thursday, Jennifer Dayton asked if there were sufficient funds to provide home Wi-Fi to students who don’t have internet at home to do their homework, and whether there was a protocol to accommodate additional students.

Mr. Dunn said currently 25 students have been identified as needing Wi-Fi access at home. “As more emerge we have funds available to support as many students as necessary,” he said.

“Stamford-based Charter Communication announced this evening that it is providing very high speed access to  tonight that  that is working in Stamford to provide very high speed access to students for $15 per month. We’re definitely going to make sure students have what they need.”

As for the survey to identify students without Wi-Fi at home, Mr. Dunn said the response rate had been good at elementary and middle schools, but not as good at GHS.

Dunn said, “We are reaching out to families to have them sign a behavior and liability form that’s been reviewed by the town legal department.” He added that after the holidays he planned to announce to families how they can access the accounts without having to become involved with the Board of Education.


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