Texas District Adds High-Capacity Internet Connectivity, Expands Online Educational Opportunities

Galveston Independent School District (ISD) has selected Comcast Business Class Ethernet to provide high-capacity Internet connectivity to support the district’s surging bandwidth needs from its media arts program, virtual classes, online testing, email, website, as well as traffic from students and teachers’ tablets and mobile devices.

Located on a barrier island on the Texas gulf coast, the Galveston ISD serves 6,400 students in 14 schools and employs 1,300 faculty and staff. The district requires a fast, reliable Internet connection to deliver a number of important technology-based programs, such as the Galveston Island Virtual E-School (G.I.V.E.S.), which allows students to take courses online in conjunction with their in-class courses. Reliable Internet is also crucial for supporting Texas’s mandatory annual academic achievement testing which are partially conducted online. The Galveston ISD was devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008, closing schools for 18 days and leaving three buildings severely damaged. With its new, redundant Internet access, the ISD can greatly reduce the chances of losing internet connectivity for extended periods of time, meaning that virtual classes, district email and the parent Web portal can be brought back online as quickly as possible in the event of another natural disaster

“Both in daily operations and in the event of a natural disaster, a reliable connection acts as our central hub for communicating with students, parents and staff alike so that we do not fall behind,” said John Mathis, the MIS director for Galveston Independent School District. “In the wake of Hurricane Ike, we quickly realized that our schools needed secure, reliable communications that not only supplied the bandwidth we needed, but also were completely separate from other carriers to give us added redundancy.”

Comcast was originally selected to provide Internet access for Central Middle School, home of the district’s Media Arts Academy, which provides students with access to professional media software and equipment in order to build professional skills suitable for modern careers in the media. Students work with digital graphics, virtual animation, and Web, podcast and video game design while using iPads to track assignments, take notes and study for tests. These activities are often bandwidth intensive as they require the sharing of large digital media files on a regular basis. Galveston ISD then implemented a second dedicated Ethernet connection at its data center, which provides Internet access for 13 additional schools and three district buildings.