PHOTO: RBR Superintendent Dr. Louis Moore addresses a large gathering of RBR Community leaders of the Wi-Fi deficiency for 10% of its students and discussed ways to solve the problem.

LITTLE SILVER, NJ - This year, Red Bank Regional High School (RBR) embarked on a one-to-one technology initiative which would give every freshman (and eventually every student) their own computer to use in the classroom and, most importantly, at home. 

“It is increasing clear that access to technology for people in this community is essential for their success,” RBR Superintendent Dr. Louis Moore told a large gathering of community members including elected officials, business, religious and community service leaders.  Among the organizations represented were, Lunch Break, Rotary Club, Community YMCA, The Red Bank River Center, St. Anthony’s, the Pilgrim Baptist Church, Monmouth Reform Temple, Monmouth Telecome, Red Bank Public Library, The Two River Times, RBR Board members, and the Horizons Student Enrichment Program.

PHOTO:  RBR Technology Director John Daniels presents a short term solution to provide Wi-Fi availability to students who lack it in their homes with a Wi-Fi jet pack.

Dr. Moore thanked the meeting attendees stating, “Nothing says more about a community that supports its kids than the attendance of these busy people today.”

He went on to explain that although the Board of Education made an important commitment so that RBR students are able to participate fully in their digital school, a survey revealed that 10 per cent of our students lack access to the internet once they leave the school building. A geo-map of the survey revealed the parts of the Red Bank community where wireless service is lacking. 

Dr. Moore explained that RBR is now a digital school where students work with their teacher’s in a Google Classroom  Every student has an email account and parents are able to view their student’s academic record by signing on to the digital parent portal.  Also, the school subscribes to resource services that staff and students can now access which were once the domain of college libraries.  Students exclusively apply to colleges online.  He explained that RBR’s goal would be to secure kitchen-table access for every RBR student. He then asked this group of community leaders how we could work together to achieve this worthy goal.

PHOTO: A large gathering of RBR community members, including elected officials, business, religious and community service leaders, met to discuss ways in which Wi-Fi access equity could be achieved in the community.  RBR Superintendent Dr. Louis Moore explained that as a digital school, and with technology paramount to every student’s success, Wi-Fi accessibility for all students is a necessity.

Discussions evolved on both short and long term plans to solve, what all viewed as a very solvable problem. One short term solution could be the purchase of portable internet “jet packs,” which RBR Technology Director John Daniels presented to the group.  While the RBR Board of Education did purchase a number of units, many more would be needed to cover the 100 households identified for need of internet access. 

Lori Hohenleitner, the Director of Horizons Enrichment Program stated that her organization serves about 300 RBR students. While Horizons would be happy to help fund some of the “jet packs” she believed a more permanent solution would be needed for this problem going forward.  Another short term solution would involve opening up public spaces with established internet for longer hours in the evening.  Gwendolyn Love, the Executive Director of Lunchbreak, mentioned that RBR students already utilize their public space for evening tutoring but thought additional time could be available, as did the Red Bank librarian, Elizabeth McDermit.  Pilgrim Baptist Church secretary Birget Mondesir also agreed to open the Church for public Wi-Fi spaces to the RBR student community as a temporary solution but added, “This is not just limited to our high school students,” and stressed that a permanent solution was needed.

The group agreed to form action groups to work on both temporary and long-term solutions to bring complete Wi-Fi equity to the Red Bank community.