Vale and area schools upgrade broadband connection

Students returning to area schools this fall will experience speedier internet connections as high-speed broadband service continues to expand across Malheur County.

According to Randy Seals, director of technology with the Malheur County Education Service District, the Vale School District now has its fiber link, which will allow for minimal bandwidth issues when many students are online simultaneously.

Seals said that in the past the schools saw a considerable slowdown when students were doing state testing. Now, he said, that won’t be a problem. Also, he said the district will have cloud backups for critical systems.

Seals said Willowcreek Elementary would see a significant improvement. Before, he said, the school had a wireless link back to Vale Butte. Seals said the internet connection was unreliable on stormy and windy days. He said now the school’s connection will be much more reliable.

Vale Superintendent, Alisha McBride said the federally funded Schools and Libraries Program and a state grant covered the project’s cost of just over $850,000.

Seals said other school districts in the county took advantage of the federal program, including Four Rivers Community School in Ontario. He said the school’s main campus and senior prep school in Four Rivers Cultural Center will have fiber connections.

Last year, he said, the Adrian School District got its fiber link last year and the education service district is overseeing projects for Annex Charter School and the Huntington School District. No completion date has been set for that work.

He said the education service district is considered projects for the Arock and Jordan Valley School Districts. He said they now rely on wireless connections.\

According to Seals, schools in Juntura and Harper already have decent fiber connections

“It is critical in education nowadays to have reliable and fast internet,” Seals said.

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