Shaver urges businesses to offer wireless Internet

TUPELO – After his school district announced its new laptop computer initiative, Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver is asking businesses to help provide Internet access to students.
The district made a splash Tuesday by saying it would provide Apple MacBook computers to all teachers, administrators and students in sixth- to 12th-grade. The district will buy more than 5,000 computers, including computer carts for all nine of its kindergarten to fifth-grade schools.
The students’ computers will replace their textbooks.
Shaver stressed after the announcement that parents would not be required to have Internet access in order for their children to complete assignments.
The students will have Internet access at school and will be able to do most of their work on the computer itself while not necessarily logged onto the Internet, Shaver said.
But Shaver, whose previous school district in Whiteville, N.C., also had a one-to-one computer program with Apple, said he is encouraging businesses to install wireless Internet hubs.
That way, for instance, students could do their homework at Laundromats while parents do their laundry.
Shaver said that 85 percent of the district’s students already have Internet access at home.
“For that other 15 percent, we are asking the community to step up and help,” Shaver said.
While the students will have the computers full time during the school year, they will come with some strings attached.
Students and parents must complete a “Care and Nurturing” program before the MacBooks are given to them.
Students who misuse their machines will have them taken away and forced back to “old school tools,” Shaver said.
In the case of vandalism, the district would hold students and parents responsible for costs, as it does for any other school property.
Shaver said he will propose that the school board levy a one-time insurance charge per computer in the neighborhood of $75. The district would help those who show need for help in paying the charge.
If the computer is returned clean and undamaged, the fee would be returned at the end of the lease, Shaver said.
The first phase of the computer distribution will occur soon, with seniors, teachers and administrators receiving their laptops before the end of this semester.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal