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Ripon Unified plans wireless upgrades
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RIPON – Lance Morrow hopes to see students at Ripon High become high-tech savvy.

“They have these devices,” said the RHS principal. “We just need to show our kids how to use them properly.”

Technology is part of the educational tool specified under the Single Plan for Student Achievement at the high school approved last Monday by the school board.

Principals and their Site Councils created the SPSA to align with the existing Local Educational Agency Plan, in turn, serving as guides as to how state and federal funds at the respective schools will be spent.

Morrow is thrilled that the school will soon receive a wireless upgrade from the San Joaquin County Office of Education. That will allow students to use their laptop computers and iPads, as an example, in the Multi-Use Room as well as anywhere else te school deems appropriate.

Keith Jackson, SJCOE’s information technology coordinator, described the wireless connectivity plan similar to that as, say, Starbucks.

The only difference is that uncensored materials will be filtered, preventing students from gaining access via computer.

“The firewall will (also) be protected against outsiders,” he added.

Trustees last week voted 4-0 on the wireless upgrade plan on the first phase of the plan consisting of Ripon High, the district office and the offices at the elementary school sites.

The district recently received over $700,000 from the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds – made possible in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – with some of the money having been used to prevent more drastic cuts to services in response to the state budget crisis, and about $250,000 in reserve for upgrades to the network.

Last year, RUSD upgraded the Wide Area Network, but was still in need of doing likewise with the Local Area Network at each of the school sites.

According to Superintendent Louise Nan, the plan to upgrade the Local Area Network came out to twice as much as originally budgeted.

“We met with the county office and prioritized the work that could be done within our existing fiscal restraints,” she said.

SJCOE recommended accomplishing the task in phases.

Cost for the phase one of the proposal is $166,675 from the one-time $250,000 in reserve from SFSF.

When funds become available, RUSD is planning to make network upgrades to the elementary school computer labs and libraries otherwise known as phase two.

The phase three plan is reserved for the elementary school classrooms.

As for phase one, Nan noted: “This project was included in our American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as submitted to the federal government, and is eligible for partial reimbursement through the federal e-rate program.”

The district had a spending deadline of Sept. 30, 2011 to use the funds.

At RHS, students are looking forward to having wireless access throughout the campus.

Jackson is hoping to have the work completed by late April.

RHS students would then be able to use their laptops or iPads inside the Multi-Use Room, for example, and work online.