Tuesday morning, officials with the Canutillo Independent School District announced the “Canutillo Connect” initiative, which will bring universal internet connectivity to the school district’s community through an outside wireless mesh network.
“Funding has been primarily directed at in-school internet connectivity,” said Board President Sergio Coronado. “However, in order to close the digital divide, we must address the lack of residential and community access.”
Last week during a special board meeting, the Canutillo ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the initial allocation of $300,000 to fund the project.
Officials say that the district is the first in the region, and third in the state to take on this initiative, through a partnership with tech companies Fluidmesh and Cisco.
“The solution is a mesh of backhaul products, a bridge between the district wireless and the internet signal broadcast to the community,” district officials shared. “This is a point-to-multipoint approach in which 75 antennas and receivers placed all over the community broadcast the universal internet signal.”
Engineers and partners who previously joined in efforts to create the Digital El Paso project in downtown El Paso were excited to provide their services and expertise in creating a seamless solution for a fourth essential utility.
“More students are online and all students should have the technology they need to stay connected to learning,” said CISD Superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz. “In addition, when we do return to normal, this initiative will continue to bear fruit by providing ready access to technology for all students outside the regular classroom setting, thus further closing the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged.”
The Canutillo Connect project is a comprehensive plan to ensure that students have equitable access to the tools they need to continue their learning remotely.
On April 28, 2020, the Trustees approved a $4.8 million request to purchase Apple devices for every student in the district.
As a result, students from Pre-Kinder through 12th grade have access to their own device for the 2020-2021 school year. Now, the Board has invested in the high-speed community broadband to make digital content available for students at home.
“Both of these purchases, for devices and internet capacity, are especially important today as our nation faces a health crisis,” said Coronado. “We must act promptly to continue our delivery of first-class instruction to all students. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last.”