Students attending Iberville Parish’s Math, Science and Arts Academy-East in St. Gabriel will receive free Internet service at their homes during the 2012-13 school year through an Iberville Parish school district and Cox Communications partnership.
Schools Superintendent Ed Cancienne said this week the pilot program will provide about 60 MSA-East students from low-income families in the Sunshine and St. Gabriel areas a more “even playing field” as the district shifts toward a more technology-driven curriculum.
Cancienne’s announcement follows the school district’s massive rollout of more than 2,000 laptop computers to all students in the sixth through 12th grades.
“As we’re moving to technology, we’re going to have an overwhelming number of students who don’t have Internet access in their homes,” Cancienne said. “I thought it would be wonderful to have an intergovernmental relationship with Cox where we can serve children through a partnership.”
Leigh King, vice president of Cox Business at Cox Communications, described the venture as “the first of its kind” for the cable company.
“We originally approached the School Board about providing a certain amount of security measures for their network,” King said, referring to the start of the four-month negotiations that led to the partnership.
Cancienne, King said, “approached us about extending our current service into the parish to allow students who don’t have Internet to get service at their home through the school network.”
The school district is utilizing funds from a state grant to pay Cox $9,500 for the pilot program, Cancienne said.
Cancienne added that its highly unlikely that the school district will be able to offer the free service parishwide any time soon.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” he said. “This is a work in progress.”
The district will install routers in the homes of the selected students, he said.
The school district’s network contains web filters that comply with the Child Internet Protection Act, Cancienne said, so students will not be able to access social media or pornographic sites.