MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – With the start of the new school year on the horizon, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is taking the front seat as the county rolls out its new initiatives for the 2015-16 school year.
At the top of the list is the addition of Internet access on school buses via WiFi provided by Verizon Wireless.
At the start of the school year, 60 prototype buses will be equipped with WiFi capabilities. The goal is to have all school buses in Miami-Dade County equipped with WiFi by the end of the school year.
Students will able to log on using a specific network name and password on each bus. The idea is to turn each bus ride into a "mobile classroom."
The WiFi access is secured with filters to keep students off of unauthorized sites.
Close to 100,000 students will be provided with wireless devices by the school system. Those include tablets and touch-screen laptops, which have been insured and tested to withstand the toughest conditions, including being dropped from as high as 8 feet.
Also on the list is GPS tracking on every bus, which will provide dispatchers and parents with an online system to track every bus route.
Phyllis Leflore, a Miami-Dade County bus driver who is in charge of training new drivers, is embracing the new technology.
"Anything can happen," Leflor said. "Anyone can be hidden on the bus. Now drivers know they are safe and they are able to be tracked in case of emergencies."
With the new technological additions come expanded routes as well.
The "Flex Stops" program is also launching this year, providing hundreds of students access to transportation to their magnet school programs.
Carvahlo said it's part of his belief in reaching every student in Miami-Dade County.
"Transportation for magnet students is not guaranteed, but we are providing it and enabling greater access to students, particularly in ZIP codes that up until now did not have access," he said.
Bus drivers reported to the South West Transportation Garage on Monday morning to pick up their routes and go on a dry run of their routes to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the first day of school.
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