Image: Pontiac

In a school district where budgets are extremely tight — like Pontiac, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit — spending more than is absolutely necessary to ensure Internet connectivity for their students just isn’t an option. Jeff Mozdzierz, Director of Technology for Pontiac School District, was tasked with finding a way to give students without home Internet access a way to connect after school.

“We looked at McDonalds, Starbucks, even churches. There was some limited access, but with many students staying up until 11 at night to do homework, what would they do?”

Jeff Mozdzierz, Director of Technology

A Struggling School District

With the loss of jobs in the Detroit area due to the declining automobile market, the Pontiac School District has seen their student population decline from 12,000 students at its peak to 4,500 currently as families move elsewhere in search of employment. Of the remaining students, 85% are on the free or reduced-cost lunch program. For these students, paying for home Internet access just isn’t a possibility.

The Pontiac School District, like many school districts around the country, is implementing blended learning into their classrooms. In the coming year, they will be launching a 1-to-1 initiative, and in order to ensure that this program is successful, all kids must have Internet access after school. Many families aren’t always able to pay for home internet access.

Tracking and Reporting

While researching possible solutions for Internet connectivity at home, the ability to track data usage with good reporting capabilities was key for Jeff and his team. With a limited budget, this would ensure that they were only paying for what they needed.

According to a recent report from network vendor Ericsson, two-thirds of data traffic comes from Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, and Instagram.

Kajeet Education Broadband™ enables schools and districts to provide connectivity for students that is safe and educational – blocking sites like these that use large quantities of data and distract students from their studies.

“The biggest advantages we’ve seen with Kajeet are the filtering, making sure that we’re CIPA compliant and being able to manage bandwidth and overage charges,”

Jeff Mozdzierz, Director of Technology

The Kajeet Managed Program allows districts and schools to choose the number of Kajeet SmartSpot® devices they need and the number of months they need them. These portable, wireless MiFi devices allow anytime, anywhere Internet access that is safe and secure for students who need it – without overage charges.

Kajeet in Action

To get the program up and running as quickly as possible and get Internet access into the hands of the kids who needed it most, the Pontiac School District was able to use operational funds to jumpstart the program for the first year. They are piloting 100 Kajeet SmartSpot devices through a library check-out system in their media center. Students are able to borrow the Kajeet SmartSpot for seven days and can bring them back for renewal.

“We wanted to make sure that they were using it appropriately – using it for education and not just streaming entertainment. We know that some kids will try to circumvent it, but we talk to them about prioritizing – doing homework.”

As they move forward into next year, Jeff is looking into using Title I funds and other sources that will enable a long-term commitment to the program. “Working with Kajeet has been really beneficial to our students,” and the Pontiac School District is determined to see it continue.