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Valley school districts look to remedy Internet issues

By Marc Blaine, KESQ News Channel 3 Anchor & Reporter, mblaine@kesq.com
Published On: Jun 06 2014 10:07:46 PM CDT
LA QUINTA, Calif. -

Students will need Internet access in the classroom more than ever next school year when California joins 43 other states in fully implementing a common core curriculum for its school districts. 

This comes as school districts in the Coachella Valley have been dealing with Internet issues.

"Suddenly everything slows down and we don't have access, so that is a big problem when the teachers are planning on it."  Dr. George Araya, the director of educational technology for the Desert Sands Unified School District, talking about the challenges teachers and students had this school year in gaining an Internet connection for the 17,000 district issued Google Chromebooks.

Desert Sands shares a county-provided Internet connection with the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs Unified school districts.

According to the Riverside County Office of Education, with some 20,000 students using iPads in the Coachella Valley Unified School District, the district caused an Internet gridlock due to mismanagement of the available bandwidth.

We made several attempts to contact CVUSD officials about the problem, but they never got back to us.

Craig Petinak, a spokesman for the the Office of the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, issued a statement confirming it capped the district's Internet use to free up connections for the other school districts.

"We applaud CVUSD on their aggressive plan to deploy tablets to all of their students.  However, there appears to be a lack of understanding at the district on how they actually connect to the Internet.  There is sufficient bandwidth for current operations when managed responsibly."

Internet access will be increasingly important for classrooms next school year,
when the state implements the common core curriculum.

Since all testing will be done online, Desert Sands plans to set up its own Internet connection in the event the county's connection becomes overloaded.

"In that way when they're up, they're up.  If they are down we are really going to bypass that process, we're going to continue using it, but if they have any problems it's not going to affect us," said Araya.

Palm Springs Unified also plans to find a backup provider before the new school year.

The County Office of Education says while it will be expanding its Internet bandwidth, it plans to meet with CVUSD officials to help them better manage the district's Internet presence.