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Free Community Wi-Fi Expanded for East San José High School

Post Date:11/14/2019

San José, Calif. – Mayor Sam Liccardo and the San José City Council approved the expansion of a community wireless network to Overfelt High School in East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD), which will serve students as well as surrounding residents.

“I'm extremely excited about this partnership between ESUHSD and the City of San José to leverage our resources in order to provide wireless internet access to our East Side families,” said Chris Funk, Superintendent of East Side Union High School District. “We are changing the paradigm of teaching and learning, and demonstrating true collaboration among two public entities.”

“Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive in school, and we know that connecting students to reliable high-speed internet access can significantly enhance their chances of academic success,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “This project expansion represents another step in our commitment to achieving our vision of digital equity—ensuring that all of our low-income families have access to free or low-cost internet service.”

With more than 30 percent of students lacking basic home internet access in East San José, this expansion will help to close the homework gap as the District’s community wireless network continues to positively impact the East Side San José community, offering under-resourced students access to digital curriculum at home with school-provided laptops, as well as mobile devices from ESUHSD and Sprint. The city will be providing design and construction support, and connectivity through the city’s fiber backhaul and streetlights. 

This expansion capitalizes on the technology bond ESUHSD passed in 2014 to increase student access to computers and modern technology—allocating $2.7 million to close the digital divide. This effort built the foundation for the City of San José’s partnership with ESUHSD to bring digital solutions and equity to the three lowest income schools in the district: James Lick, William C. Overfelt (“Overfelt”), and Yerba Buena. 

This project follows a successful pilot of the program at James Lick High School, which brought free internet access into the homes of 1,700 students, and approximately 6,000 surrounding public households between 2017 and 2019. 

At James Lick High School, the program’s success prompted an educational outcome assessment by the District through a partnership with Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges/California Department of Education (ACS WASC/CDE). The evaluation found many positive community wireless outcomes, including:

  • 71% of graduates in 2018 matriculated to a two-year college or four-year university;
  • 11% increase in SAT, ACT, and State Assessments scores for the past five years;
  • 58% of graduates passed the English college competency exam the first time; 
  • 88% increase in GPAs since 2014 (with 44% of growth occurring in the past two years); and, 
  • 94% of students reported feeling more connected and proud of their school (a noticeable increase from 57% in 2014).

This innovative partnership reinforces the district’s long-term goal to expand wireless access to all of its attendance areas, as well as the San José Smart City Vision to ensure that all residents have access to affordable high-speed internet access. This is possible through support from:

  • ESUHSD, responsible for funding installation, maintenance, performing administration, and evaluating education outcomes for digital literacy with the City; 
  • City of San José, providing power, project management with design and construction support, and network delivery using the City’s fiber backhaul and streetlights; and,
  • SmartWAVE, installing and maintaining networks. 

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About East Side Union High School District

East Side Union High School District, established in 1950, serves more than 23,000 students in grades 9-12 in San José, Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley). It has the seventh-largest high school student enrollment in the state and the largest in northern California, with a 4-Year Local Cohort Graduation Rate at 96.9% for the class of 2019. The district’s mission is to align decisions to create safe, dynamic and relevant learning environments that inspire critical thinking, problem solving and innovation. www.esuhsd.org.

About San José’s Smart City Vision

Through Mayor Liccardo’s Smart City Vision, San José is embracing new technologies, public-private partnerships and its innovative community to improve safety, city services and quality of life. In doing so, it can improve safety, city services and quality of life, while reducing costs. Learn more at http://www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=5001.

 

Media Contacts:

Chloe Meyere, Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, (408) 535-4833 or chloe.meyere@sanjsoeca.gov

East Side Union High School District: Linda Ornelas, 408-347-5014, or ornelasl@esuhsd.org

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