Slow Internet connections have been troubling for some Richmond County schools, especially in classes that rely on the Internet instead of textbooks.
Butler High School teachers Debby Arnold and Alzenia Williams say they are all too familiar with the problem.
"When they're all on the computer at once, it slows down," said Ms. Arnold, who especially notices an Internet speed problem in her Introduction to Animation and 3D class. "There are times you just need to reboot."
Ms. Williams said that "early in the mornings I'm OK because not a lot of people are online," but she said that changes by 10 or 11 a.m.
Ms. Arnold said a task as simple as checking class attendance through an online program can sometimes prove difficult, and when a student's online test freezes up the student must be given extra time to finish.
Rob Jankus, the acting director of Information Technology, brought up the subject at a recent school board committee meeting, telling board members that T1 and Metro-Ethernet lines for schools should be changed over to fiber-optic technology -- which would be 1,000 times faster than the system's current best speeds.
The biggest issue, board members were told, is T1, but fiber-optics also would be better than the Metro-Ethernet lines.
"Students are not able to use many Internet-based programs because the programs today are graphic intensive and use streaming video. As time goes by, our network will not be able to support the many resources available to our teachers and students," reads a summary on the meeting's agenda list.
Superintendent Dana Bedden agreed.
"We need to look at a better system for our Internet infrastructure. And we didn't want to go exploring this route without your knowledge of it. We have got to move toward fiber," he told board members at the committee meeting.
Dr. Bedden said the system is bottle-necking just as hundreds of new computers have been added for teachers.
"It's knocking people off and they're going to get frustrated," he said. "The farther we go out, the worse the problem."
Dr. Bedden said officials would like to develop a request for proposals to present to the board.
Ms. Arnold, whose class has 28 computers, said such an improvement would allow both teachers and students to keep up with current technology.
"It's moving so fast," she said.
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.