LISD, UISD Receive Combined $10.3M For Technology

LISD, UISD Receive Combined $10.3M For Technology

To continue to address the digital divide, Representative Henry Cuellar announced on Friday, November 18, more than $10.3 million in co-funding to the Laredo Independent School District and the United Charter School District to provide laptops, broadband connections widely and other facilities for students and staff.

"The pandemic has highlighted that internet access is essential to modern education. However, many children do not have the internet access at home they need for school work at night," Cullier said. This funding will help all students after school have access to the technology they need to do their homework.

"This is the largest effort in our nation's history by the federal government to address the digital divide our education system has created, and I will continue to support programs that ensure all children have access to the tools they need to get a quality education in today's digital age.

The funding was obtained through the Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Communications Fund, created as part of the Bailout America Act of 2021. The $7.171 billion program helps provide schools and libraries with the tools and services needed for distance learning. It has provided devices and connections to nearly 15 million students since launching last year.

We know that education is the key. Yes, it's expensive, and yes, we're hearing from taxpayers that they no longer want to pay for education or utilities," said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz. That's why we rely so heavily on federal and state funding. Education is the key. We must educate our students and continue to educate adults as well. It depends on that money and today it all depends on broadband.

At Friday's press conference in the UISD boardroom, Sainz Cuellar thanked him for his efforts to raise money for the Laredo school district and shared a nickname he came up with for the congressman.

"He's done a lot for this community and he's proven it time and time again," Sainz said. "I call them Cheerios because there are so many zeros behind all the checks they bring. Every time I see one, there's usually a sign next to it. Henry, I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for this community didn't. over and over."

Because LISD previously used COVID-19 pandemic recovery funds for hotspots and laptops, the bulk of the $10.3 million announced Friday went to the UNESCO Institute for Sustainable Development. LISD will use the $554,400 it receives to benefit its 22,000 students by purchasing 2,100 access points and paying a monthly fee.

Ambrose Gomez, executive director of technology services, said the money will help them continue efforts started during the pandemic in 2020.

"We had to act quickly, manage with our board, our federal programs and our Treasury Department to make sure we're doing the best we can to support our children," he said. "That's our goal as a community and most school districts. We wanted to do everything we could to make them successful and I think we did."

UISD will use the $9,746,110 received to benefit its 43,000 students in a variety of ways. It will cost $6,804,624 to buy 21,600 laptops for students and $935,650 to buy 3,000 laptops for teachers and support staff. You'll also spend $1,871,325 for 11,000 access points, $63,999 for 40 Wi-Fi routers and $70,512 to equip the bus with Wi-Fi.

"Our whole world is changing because of the pandemic. Our biggest challenge is how to educate all these children from home?" What really saved us was our slogan 'United for Kids,' because it's a great team," said UISD Assistant Superintendent Hector G. Perez Technology. "No one complains about staying up late, working weekends and looking for solutions . We are turning the old classrooms we all know into digital classrooms. It was quite a challenge. It was a project that took six months to a year and we had to finish it in a week or two."

Perez analyzes how the fight continues after the first days of the pandemic. His department received more than 3,200 calls in a three-day period in August 2020, and he singled out one particularly memorable one.

"I will never forget the first days of August 2020," he said. We received 3200 calls in three days. I had to solve a 4 year old's problems and tell him what to do because my mom is very afraid of technology. Our team did what they had to do."

Despite all the big purchases for the district, Perez is excited about equipping the buses with Wi-Fi and the opportunity it provides with some students spending more than an hour on the bus.

"Think how nice it is that you can use a Wi-Fi device to do your homework," he says. "You have to keep these kids engaged. An hour for them is an eternity. They have to participate."

UISD Principal David González thanked Cuellar for securing the funds and emphasized the importance of putting them to good use.

“I can assure you as a unified ISD school that our kids are using the equipment,” he said. "We have weekly meetings and we do informal rounds and the technology that's happening at our school is amazing. It's happening. Getting paid is one thing, getting a device is another, but the proof is in the candy .

Cuellar was happy to see federal money going to local school districts, but expressed disappointment that it is not being implemented statewide.

This money will come from the federal government and money sent to the states. I hope the country uses the money properly, because if you remember, you have a deficit. "Now they have a $28 billion surplus," Cullar said. "Partly because of oil and gas, and I support oil and gas, but the surplus is also because states are doing a good job of saving a lot of federal dollars and not using them during a pandemic.

“Even from the money we send, we get 10% and they still keep a part, which is very unfortunate. The state must send you money. Now they have the money and I hope they use it well. .”

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