Meridian receives $83,690 technology grant, purchases hotspots

Students+can+check+out+hotspots+for+remote+learning.+These+hotspots+were+bought+with+the+newly+appointed+grant+money+from+the+state.

photo by Robert Le Cates

Students can check out hotspots for remote learning. These hotspots were bought with the newly appointed grant money from the state.

On September 8, Meridian High School received a technology grant for over $80,000. This money will help remote learners who don’t have a stable internet connection. It will also provide teachers with equipment for educational improvements. 

“We purchased 75 wifi hotspots for the district to use to help with families with poor internet service.  We purchased some document cameras, webcams, and tablets for teachers to assist with remote learning activities.  We also used some money to upgrade online subscriptions,” District Technology Coordinator Phill Stielow said.

Meridian students who need internet access will be able to check out hotspots at the library to use for remote learning. 

“We needed to upgrade our technology for remote learning to improve that process,” Stielow said.

In late July early September, Meridian’s superintendent Andy Pygott applied for a competitive grant through the Illinois Board of Education; many districts applied, but there was only a limited amount of funding to go around.

“We were required to submit a district technology survey profile and we were prequalified because we are a Tier I funded school,” Pygott said. “The grant money is allocated on a formula that we used to identify how many families have difficulties with internet connectivity.  We received the grant money for devices (hotspots) and Chromebooks,” Pygott said.

Tier I schools are the lowest funded-ranking schools. They require an increase in overall state aid, tax money, in comparison to other districts.

“This type of grant is necessary for schools in order to help adequately provide the resources for students and families.  When we qualify, it is absolutely necessary to apply using the appropriate steps, and then hope we receive the grant,” Pygott said. “I am glad that we received the grant and that we can continue to improve on technology-related services for students and families in the Meridian district.”