State conducting parent survey on internet access

State survey to collect technology information

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State school leaders are trying to collect data on technology access across the state as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

State leaders are trying to get a broader scope of who has access to what to help fill the gaps. The survey asks things like, Do you have internet at home? or What type of personal technological devices do you have access to at home?.

”We have not previously collected information on households,” said Michael Sibley, Communications Director, ALSDE, “It’s incredibly important that we know our weak points.”

In a message posted to parents, state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey says the list is needed so that the state “may best utilize the funds available to help Alabama students.”

The governor recently approved a 100 million dollar grant to help improve technology resources.

Winfield City Schools Superintendent Chris Cook expects to get about $100,000 for his district to upgrade WiFi on buses, but hopes the survey data opens up access for more money.

“I would hope that it would give us more money to broaden wifi to people living in outlying areas,” said Chris Cook, Superintendent.

His district conducted its own survey in mid-July and found about 10-15 percent of students had non-reliable internet and about 10 percent had no internet access. He estimates we could see a bigger disparity when we look at numbers across the state.

“Feel like it’s going to be lower than what ours is,” said Cook, “40 - 50 percent don’t have access.”

The state says about 10,000 parents have completed the survey and they hope to use the data for long-term planning in case all schools are required to shut down again because of COVID.

That survey is due by Friday, July 31.

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