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Better internet coming to Shandon schools 

After years of struggling with sub-par internet service, students and staff at the Shandon Joint Unified School are finally getting an upgrade.

The district is getting assistance and funding from SLO County and Cal Fire to bring the long-awaited extension of a fiber optic line that will bring high-speed internet to the far-flung school district. The county Board of Supervisors approved the $200,000 project at its May 23 regular meeting.

The project will allow the county to extend the high-speed fiber optic line from an access point located 1 mile west of Shandon High School. The district initially received a $70,000 grant from the state to upgrade its internet access, but due to the area’s remote geography, the grant funds were insufficient to construct the 1-mile extension.

The Shandon school district has long struggled with inferior internet service, according to Superintendent Teresa Taylor. Up until as late as last year, the district would frequently hit usage capacity.

Taylor said the lack of adequate internet connectivity impacts staff, students, and the district’s administration. Many of systems that track and submit student information for state-required reports rely on access to the internet, as well as the computer programs that allow students to practice for and take the state’s standardized tests.

“If you’re not sure if the internet is going to work every day, you can’t put that in your lesson plans,” Taylor said.

The district isn’t the only entity that will benefit from the project. According to a report by county staff, the project will also allow for a faster, better connection between its IT services division and Cal Fire’s Shandon station. The newly installed fiber optic extension will also allow the county Public Works Department to establish a high-speed connection Shandon’s water distribution system.

The joint project is set to go out to bid in June, with construction tentatively slated to begin in the fall.

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