Kaneland students to get new Chromebooks, WiFi on buses thanks to technology grant

Kaneland School District will be replacing all of its Chromebooks, adding WiFi to school buses and purchasing new laptops for faculty thanks to a $1.5 million technology grant.

Julie-Ann Fuchs, district associate superintendent, shared the news during the Nov. 29 board meeting, announcing that Tim Wolf, director of technology, has received the grant, which needs to be spent by the end of the year.

The grant will allow the district to replace all 3,100 Chromebooks so that next year students would receive new ones.

Fuchs explained that WiFi on the buses would not only benefit students by providing them with such access, but it would also help the district in other ways.

“There is money in that grant for WiFi on our school buses so we ordered one to try it and once they know it’s going to take it, they’ll order the rest,” she said. “That is going to be wonderful because it’s not only going to give our students access to WiFi but we’ll be able to do some enhanced camera usage and GPS tracking so there’s just extra benefits of having that WiFi on the school bus.”

Fuchs said the third piece of the grant is for laptops for teachers. It includes up to $400 per device.

“We will have a plan for how that is going to help us and we’ll probably be using some of the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) money because that’s what it’s for, to help with technology.”

The replacement cycle for laptops currently in last year’s five-year projections had to split over two years, but now with the grant money, the district no longer will have to go that route.

Harter Middle School Principal Nathan Schmitt introduced new staff members to its special education department, seventh grade teacher Steve Ostergaard and eighth grade teacher Terry Wilkinson, as well as the district’s new ELL Coordinator, Jessica Wiechert.

“It’s been a great school year so far,” Ostergaard said. “I feel Nathan has done a great job and administration has done a great job handling of whatever we want to call what this new normal is. I really have enjoyed my time here so far and I can’t wait for more.”

Ostergaard and Wiechert were appreciative of the opportunity to meet the board in such a public setting while Wilkinson was unable to attend due to a coaching commitment.

“I just wanted to personally thank you,” Wiechert said. “This is the first school district that I have worked in that has given new staff the opportunity to come and introduce ourselves and come meet all of you in person.”

Chris Walker

Chris Walker is a contributor to Shaw Local