by Elizabeth Wiener
Current Staff Writer
Deal Middle School is getting an upgrade to its failed wireless Internet system, which left D.C.’s second largest public school without reliable Internet access for the past year. Officials at the D.C. Department of General Services say installation of a new system should be complete shortly after classes start.
According to department spokesperson Kenneth Diggs, Deal’s old Internet equipment was reinstalled “as a cost-saving measure” when the Tenleytown school building was renovated and expanded several years ago. Now the normal lifespan of that equipment — five to seven years — has expired.
The gap left Deal teachers struggling to administer tests online last year, and hampered their ability to use the Internet for other types of classroom instruction. Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh has been pushing for a fix, saying the problems have created “a significant hardship” for the school. In a recent letter to Department of General Services director Brian Hanlon, Cheh also noted that a new online learning management system that Deal is supposed to pilot this year “cannot be used without Internet access.”
Diggs said Monday that the estimated cost to replace the system, including labor and additional cooling equipment, is just under $750,000. He said the mayor requested, and the council approved, a reprogramming of funds in July to cover the cost.
Diggs said the city has chosen a contractor, with work set to begin in the next few weeks. The majority of the work will be done by the start of school, with the problem “rectified” in September, he said.
Reprinted, with permission, from the August 1 edition of The Northwest Current.