HSD to take part in city-owned internet
Hillsboro schools will be some of the first to benefit from the city's plan to offer high-speed fiber optic internet service to residents across Hillsboro, the school district announced this week.
On Monday, Aug. 27, the Hillsboro School District announced it would be partnering with the city, to bring the high-speed connection to every Hillsboro school by the end of 2019.
"Hillsboro-area students and teachers can look forward to faster, more reliable internet connectivity in schools and classrooms," said district spokeswoman Beth Graser in a statement.
The service will be paid for by the school district's capital construction bond, which voters approved last week.
"As a result, students, teachers, and staff in the Hillsboro School District will enjoy greater data transmission capacity and built-in redundancies that will reduce the potential for internet service downtime," Graser said.
In May, Hillsboro city councilors committed to making affordable internet access a city utility, the same as water and sewer services. The city plans to begin phasing in city-owned fiber optic internet to residents in two city neighborhoods — South Hillsboro and the Shute Park neighborhood — next year.
City officials have said that having access to high-speed internet is an essential component to living in the 21st Century.
City officials have said that low-income areas of Hillsboro will be some of the first to receive the service. Lower income families are less likely to have reliable internet access, according to City Councilor Anthony Martin. That has created a divide among different aspects in the community, he said.
The partnership between the school district and the city also means savings for both parties, according to Graser.
The district will save as much as $200,000 each school year as city employees manage, monitor and maintain the network, Graser said.
"The city will also realize savings by engaging in the joint design and installation effort and avoiding the need to duplicate fiber network construction in and around schools," she said. "... The partner agencies will be able to leverage one another's strengths and economies of scale, and save millions of taxpayer dollars."
Both the district's superintendent and the city's mayor weighed in on the recent agreement.
"The partnership between the city and HSD is all about what's best for our community," said superintendent Mike Scott in a statement from the district. "We have a long history of working together to best serve our students and families, and this is another opportunity for us to do the right thing and make our schools and our community stronger."
Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway, who worked as a principal and administrator in Hillsboro schools for years, called the project "the ultimate community partnership."
"Our local school district and our local government understand the needs of our students and our neighbors," he said. "This will help us move forward with the long-term buildout of the city's fiber network to serve families throughout the community."
The project to connect the schools is expected to begin in October or November of this year, and projected to be completed by December of 2019.
A formal agreement between the city and school district is still pending.
Editor's Note: The story has been edited to state that low income neighborhoods will be some of the first to receive the internet services, rather than exclusively.
The story has been edited to change "garbage services" to "sewer services."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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