The new Wi-Fi system is expected to be operational this spring at Genoa schools.
“It should be ready by the end of the school year at the latest,” said Tom Baker, the district’s technology director.
Contractors spent the last quarter of 2012 installing router system networks throughout the high school, middle school and administration building on Genoa-Clay Center Road.
The newly-constructed Genoa Elementary School already had been set up for the Wi-Fi system. “All the wiring is done and now we’re looking at the hotspots to be approved,” said Superintendent Dennis Mock in early January.
Baker met with representatives of Netech recently to decide on hotspot sites. The sites must be approved by the Genoa Board of Education first.
The board approved the Netech contract late last year for a sum of $20,445, Mock said. The package, which also included some changes in the building security systems, is covered by monies from the permanent improvement fund.
The district has had Internet service for a number of years. That system, however, is a fiber-optic connection provided by Time Warner. That technology is solely dedicated to servicing connected computers.
A Wi-Fi hotspot is a place that offers a wireless Internet connection to laptop computers and other mobile devices such as cell phones, iPods, iPads and Kindles, Baker noted.
The change will also allow school district officials and students to modify their learning programs to include the mobile devices.
As Baker noted earlier in the school year, some of the handheld devices owned by students are far more powerful than the computers on site.
Currently, Genoa schools maintains a strict no-cell phone policy, according to Mike Vicars, middle school assistant principal.
With the introduction of the expanded Wi-Fi service, school officials will look to address the balance between using innovative technology to advance learning versus fending off user abuse.
Vicars, along with high school Principal Kevin Katafias and Assistant Principal Cari Buehler, will lead the charge in tweaking the current computer policy to encompass mobile devices, Baker noted. The rules will include a responsibility clause for students and an outline of repercussions for violation of policies.
However, not all teachers are keen on opening the door to personal devices in the classroom. That is why during the first year, teachers and staff have the option of whether or not to allow mobile devices to be used in conjunction with regular teaching materials and equipment, Baker said.
School administrators will review the results of the 2012-13 school year and chart the district’s course afterward.
In the mean time, Genoa schools officials are still struggling with a current tech problem - fixing the school’s website, which had been malfunctioning since the weekend of Jan. 12, Mock said.
When users attempt to connect to the link, the site simply shows a blank homepage with the Comets’ school colors of maroon and gray.
“Mr. Baker and others are working on it,” Mock said.