Technology improvements funded through state allocations related to the pandemic are helping the Booneville School District continue to reach students wherever they may be.
Superintendent Dr. Todd English said the district has ordered 700 new Chromebook computers for students and 100 new laptops for teachers through the Mississippi Department of Education’s Equity in Distance Learning program. The new Chromebooks will update the district’s current units. Every student in the district receives a school-issued device.
They are also receiving funds through the Mississippi Pandemic Response Broadband Availability Act to expand WiFi internet access. Equipment will be installed to extend the WiFi signal into the parking lots at both school campuses. They will also be installing WiFi access points at the high school baseball field and the soccer/junior high football field at Plumrose Park.
English said the expansion of WiFi will provide easier access in multiple locations for those who do not have Internet access at home. The equipment at the park will put public WiFi access close to the public housing at August Circle.
The district’s improvements, which should be completed by early December, along with access available through Northeast Mississippi Community College and numerous restaurants and others in the community, mean free WiFi access will be easily available throughout the community.
The district has seen a slight increase in enrollment this semester, English recently told school board members. He said they are up by around 15 students compared to this time last year. He attributes the increase to the graduation of an unusually small senior class last year combined with the start of school for a larger kindergarten group this year.
Board members voted recently to hire police officers for the semester, continuing a partnership with the Booneville Police Department that has paid dividends, he said. The officers work for the district on their days off from their regular duties and at least one officer is on each campus any time students are present.
The superintendent said the partnership has worked well, helping to keep students safe and build relationships between students and officers.