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CCSD to seek state funds to ensure internet connectivity for students

Updated August 28, 2020 - 8:06 am

The Clark County School District will seek state funding next year to provide internet connectivity for all students in order to sustain the programs the district has established during distance learning.

The school board voted Thursday to prioritize two proposed bills at the next session of the state Legislature: one on internet connectivity and another on removing unfunded mandates such as the civics exam.

Trustees described internet connectivity as both a timely initiative and one that needed to be sustained beyond the one-time cash infusion from the federal CARES Act that allowed the district to provide internet hot spots and subscriptions to qualifying families.

“We have to find a way to support that once these CARES dollars disappear,” Board President Lola Brooks said.

To choose its two bills, trustees had to turn down other possible initiatives, including one to add more mental health professionals to schools and another to change sex education from opt-in to opt-out in order to increase student participation.

Trustees asked for further discussion on both mental health and sex ed initiatives.

CCSD began its school year virtually this week with some technical difficulties, including outages of its primary learning platform, Canvas, that affected districts across the country. On Thursday, the district announced it had also experienced a data security breach.

District officials did not have any additional information on either the security breach or the outage of the student information portal, Infinite Campus, also reported at the district on Thursday.

CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara acknowledged the district had faced some issues with distance learning, and he said the district had been in touch with Google and Canvas about possible solutions. He said Google will provide the district early access to new tools to mitigate student interruptions in virtual classrooms.

Jara also reminded the board that it was only the fourth day of distance learning.

The district is still in the process of doling out Chromebooks to those who need them, Jara said, with just over 211,000 devices checked out so far. Another 19,000 students still report needing devices.

During a presentation on technical support funds available to schools, Jara said the district had just two people in the central office dedicated to managing Canvas.

“We’ve invested millions of dollars that have come in from the federal government, but we have to put in place infrastructure to support our schools with informational technology to be able to support classroom instruction,” Jara said.

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at 702-383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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