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Grant sought to bring Penn Hills elementary wireless technology up to latest standards

Michael DiVittorio
| Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, 5:03 p.m.
Sign outside Penn Hills Elementary School.
Mike Divittorio | Tribune-Review
Sign outside Penn Hills Elementary School.

Officials are hoping to upgrade the Penn Hills Elementary School's wireless capabilities with a federal grant similar to ones it received the last two years to boost technology at the middle and high schools.

District Technology Director Roger Myers said the grant would be used to bring the elementary's wireless power up to speed with the middle and high schools.

“They're wireless upgrades to the latest standards, which means more devices will be able to take advantage of the higher speed transmission and support more devices than the older, outdated wireless access points,” Myers said. “More devices is important in a classroom, because if you have 20 kids all trying to access that wireless point, it's going to be faster and easier to do so.”

Officials would not say how much is being sought through the Federal Communications Commission's E-Rate Program that was established to make telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries. The school board would have to approve funding a 20 percent match of whatever amount is received through the program.

The maximum amount of grant money available through E-Rate is $186,000, Myers said. Penn Hills received grants of $147,000 for the middle school last year and $132,392 this year for the high school.

Upgrades, including the grant money, cost $239,184 for the middle school and $165,490 for the high school. Cost of upgrading the elementary has not been determined, Myers said.

The latest round of grants started being awarded in July. Even though he is still awaiting word on the district's application, Myers said the goal is to have the elementary upgraded by the start of the next school year.

“It's easier to do over the summer because there are no children and it doesn't disturb the learning process,” Myers said.

School board President Erin Vecchio believes having the upgraded system in all three schools will be a boon for students and staff.

“He's bringing us up to standards we need to be at right now,” Vecchio said.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 or mdivittorio@tribweb.com, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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