High Speed Internet Brought to Black Oak Mine Unified School District

by Placerville Newswire / Mar 14, 2016 / comments

The Black Oak Mine Unified School District (BOMUSD) is excited to announce that some of the fastest connectivity in El Dorado County has arrived in its classrooms. Before the fiber connection was made, BOMUSD educators and staff were continuously challenged with sluggish, non-productive internet connectivity. Teachers can now conduct 21st century lessons with interactive, online components. For the first time, students are able to watch web-based videos in their classes. “BOMUSD just went from a dirt road to a four-lane highway with their one-gigabyte internet connection speed and capacity,” Logan Lemming, El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE) Information Technology Senior Director, exclaimed.

State and federal funding channeled from the Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant (BIIG) made the lightening-speed connectivity possible. EDCOE’s Information Technology Department spearheaded the three-year effort which included overall project management, assistance engineering the ultimate solution; authorship of the grant application, and collaboration with the governor’s office to make BOMUSD’s grant a priority. Once the grant was awarded and a competitive and open bidding process was conducted, AT&T was selected as the service provider. EDCOE and BOMUSD technicians then assisted AT&T on many site surveys. AT&T installed long fiber cables to school property while EDCOE and BOMUSD technicians installed and configured the equipment in the buildings.     

“A whole new world of possibilities just opened up for our students and teachers,” BOMUSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Williams stated. “I would like to personally thank everyone involved including our BIIG partners, EDCOE and BOMUSD Information Technology members. This collaborative effort is not only contributing to our students’ education, it’s changing the culture of our entire district.”

David Seabury, EDCOE’s Assistant Director of Information Technology, not only attended BOMUSD schools but actually helped install Golden Sierra High School’s original internet connection as a computer science student almost 15 years ago. He has been an integral part of this project and actually plugged in the final cord that brought the faster connection to life, “I had such a sense of personal and professional pride making that connection. BOMUSD educators and staff deserve a lot of credit for being flexible and not compromising the quality of education because of their older connection and limitations. It’s incredible what they have been able to do up to this point.” 

Michael Bose, Georgetown School Principal, immediately noticed the instructional transformation. “Prior to the connection, only a dozen or so students could participate in online learning at any given time. They spent most of their lessons waiting for web pages and screens to load. Today, the new connectivity keeps entire computer labs of students fully engaged.” 

This 21st century connectivity also allows teachers to individualize lessons based on ability and needs, and it affords a setting where they can focus on quality one-on-one time with each student. Teachers are closing the achievement gap and raising the ceiling for more advanced students. At Georgetown School, students are learning how to use Microsoft Office programs and computer coding. “This allows us to target intervention and enrichment, and we can see how students are progressing through lessons at our own computers in real-time,” teacher Tamzin Ellsworth explained. “I have third grade students who can teach others about computer block coding. It’s truly amazing.”

Christine Brown, Technology Teacher at Georgetown and Northside Schools, looks forward to a technologically advanced future at BOMUSD. “We have a staff that is eager to use technology to enrich our students' learning. It's a very exciting time, because the new broadband connection is allowing us to put those desires into action. Sites such as Khan Academy, Code.org, Quizziz, Kahoot, Pearson, XtraMath, TenMarks, EasyBib, and many others are being utilized on a regular basis now that we have broadband. And tasks such as researching for a project and practicing typing have become struggle-free thanks to the improved connection speed.”

BOMUSD’s District Office, American River Charter School and Georgetown School have gone live, while Northside School, Otter Creek School, Golden Sierra High School and Divide High School will receive the faster connectivity in the coming months. 

“This was a fantastic team effort - regardless of the organization our team members worked for, everyone made personal and professional sacrifices to bring BOMUSD into the 21st century. In one day, they jumped 20 years,” Logan Lemming added.

For more information regarding BOMUSD and its programs and schools, visit www.bomusd.org 

For more information about EDCOE’s programs and services, visit www.edcoe.org