‘It helps extend the school day’: Joink, VCSC team up to expand student broadband access

Local News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Joink and the Vigo County School Corporation are teaming up to expand broadband access throughout Vigo County.

VCSC Director of Communications Bill Riley said that the corporation recognized a need for improving internet connection to students after providing each student with a Chromebook last year.

“We’re a countywide district and there are rural areas of our county that no matter how much money you have, getting a good Wi-Fi signal is difficult,” Riley said. “That was part of the idea when we applied for the GEER grant.”

As the Chromebooks rolled out, Riley stated that VCSC surveyed parents as to what areas needed to be targeted to improve their connections.

“We did a lot of surveying of our parents just to help us understand where our pockets of low connectivity were and just how many students were we talking about that had connectivity issues at home,” Riley said.

Joink is responsible for the addition of fiber optic cables in rural areas. Joink President and CEO Josh Zuerner said that they target specific points of interest to place the extra cables.

“We’ve been building fiber throughout Vigo County to reach forty four rural locations,” Zuerner explained. “Parks, firehouses, community centers and other points of community interest to provide safe locations for students to go to be able to get online.”

Zuerner said that much of the underground construction is to very rural parts of the county, and about 80% of the main line construction is complete. This internet expansion project required plenty of collaboration according to Zuerner.

“What’s most exciting to me is the degree of collaboration that is occurring in West Central Indiana,” Zuerner said. “For the city, school corporation and the county to come together on a project that benefits kids is just really awesome.”

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