MARENGO – Marengo Community High School District 154 students traveling on the bus to school, games or field trips now have access to Wi-Fi with the district’s new “Wi-Fi on the Fly” program.
What started as a pilot program on one bus last year expanded to the district’s seven buses, District 154 Superintendent Dan Bertrand said.
It cost about $1,200 to equip each bus with Wi-Fi, Bertrand said, and funding was donated by the Marengo Area Education Foundation.
This is the first year that all high school students have their own laptops as part of the Digital Learning Environment Program, which the district has been phasing in for the past three years, Bertrand said.
“When it comes to technology, (students will) figure things out on their own and be creative in using technology in ways that maybe older adults wouldn’t think of,” Bertrand said. “So I think it’s really expanded kids’ ability to use technology as a learning tool.”
Bertrand said Marengo is the only high school in northern Illinois that he knows of that has Wi-Fi on school buses.
The bus used as a pilot for the Wi-Fi last year also was used by the softball team, Bertrand said.
Softball coach Dwain Nance said the softball team can travel up to an hour and a half for some games, and having Wi-Fi allows them to access homework on their laptops and saves them from having to use data on their phones.
“Time management is definitely an issue for our athletes,” Nance said, especially when they’re also involved in other activities, which makes it nice to have that time on the bus for work.
“It just gives them an extra opportunity to do something on a typical bus ride when they’re usually not doing anything,” Nance said.
He said the Wi-Fi also reaches beyond the buses, allowing students to do work off the bus at other schools.