Alabama district hopes free Wi-Fi on school buses helps students succeed

EUFAULA, Alabama -- If teachers want to get homework back on time, give the students free Wi-Fi.

That's the thinking behind a plan in one Alabama school district to add mobile hot spots to their school buses.

The new service will allow up to 60 devices to connect at once, and could turn the trip to school into a study hall on the run, WTVM-TV reports.

"This is about the total bus experience for our students here at Eufaula City Schools," says Andy Hinton, who works at the school district.

Parents concerned about students having more screen time are sure to find some relief after learning the free internet access will be limited to make sure students focus on schoolwork, Hinton said.

With student athletes averaging more than an hour on the bus following after-school practice, the new service could help make better students, officials said.

Corey Kirkland, whose student attends Eufaula schools, thinks the plan is a good idea, especially benefiting those who don't have internet access at home.

"The time that could be wasted to and from games, they can now be working on their homework, studying for test, doing the things they need to do so they don't get behind," Kirkland said.

Bus driver Joel Washington said he never thought he'd see a wireless experience in his bus, especially after 20 years on the job.

"Never in my whole entire life knowing this service would be part of our system," Washington said.

School administrators said the $23,000 cost for the Wi-Fi service comes from a school initiative to expand technology in the classroom.

The same program put Chromebooks and tablets into student hands in the past.

Eufaula City Schools said the service will be open to students from Kindergarten to 12th grade.