School Districts Linking Education

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It will help cut costs for schools and provide a better educational experience for students.

"In many ways we're creating a technological superhighway," said Ingham Intermediate School District Superintendent Stanley Kogut.

A fiber connection will allow every public school district in Ingham County to share resources and offer additional services. It's a direct result of Governor Granholm's plan to have school districts look for ways to cut costs without effecting curriculum.

"It opens up opportunities for kids to grow and see things they wouldn't know existed before," Kogut said. "A lot of opportunities for classes they wouldn't have had in their district.

Those classes will include distance learning -- meaning a student in East Lansing could take a course offered in Okemos over the internet with a live instructor.

"The ability to interact with their peers, to interact at a distance, to have a class taught differently than what they're used to in the classroom fits the mold of what they come to school with already," said Media and Technology Director Sue Schwartz.

Most high school students are already internet savvy, but this program won't be restricted to them. Elementary students can take virtual field trips or learn simple math skills through shared software. It helps districts to reduce costs and combine resources.

"School districts need to collaborate more for one thing to save money but also to provide better instruction," Kogut said. "In many ways this is limited only by our imagination."

The project will cost a little more than $1 million and will be divided among the districts. The system should be fully operational by July 2008.

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