The landscape behind the Glenn County Office of Education buildings in Orland and Willows has yet to change, despite county officials' intentions to already have the two new 100-foot WiFi signal towers in place to boost Internet accessibility for students.
The project was suppose to be completed before the start of the school year, but has been delayed, frustrating the Glenn County Board of Education, which approved the project in January.
"It should have been done yesterday," board President Judy Holzapfel said Wednesday.
Glenn County Superintendent of Schools Tracey Quarne said the contractor's previous attempt to get a straight line of sight between the schools and the tower locations using a balloon failed last spring due to wind.
The company is to return next week to try again, Quarne said.
County officials also said they will hold the contractor to the quoted price of $400,000, although the company now claims an overly eager salesman quoted below what the project will cost to complete.
Holzapfel said the school board will look for another state-authorized vendor if the contractor doesn't honor the agreement. He noted that the company did sign the purchase order.
The board wants the project completed by Christmas.
"I don't want anymore excuses," Holzapfel said. "We need the towers completed. It's important to the students in this county."
The two 100-foot Internet signal towers will be constructed at each of the Glenn County Office of Education administrations offices.
The towers will connect Plaza, Lake, Capay and Willowglen schools to high-speed Internet along with Princeton and other Glenn County Office of Education programs through wireless Internet signals.
The tower at the Willows office will connect schools in the south county area, and the tower in Orland will connect all of the schools in northern Glenn County.
For the mountainous community of Elk Creek, the office hopes to bounce signals off the county-owned Needham Tower.
Quarne said students will need the high-speed Internet when the state throws out its pencil and Scantron fill-in-the-bubble standardized tests in favor of the point-to-point Internet assessment tests to be implemented with the new Common Core Standards in 2015.
"We need it by spring," Quarne said.
Internet accessibility has been a major concern for rural schools since the new computerized tests were approved, officials said.
The state Board of Education is set to hear an appeal by Glenn County Board of Education to use state grant funds specifically earmarked for school construction.
Officials believe they have a good chance of winning the appeal because the scope of school construction has changed to keep up with technology.
"Schools are no longer sticks and bricks," Holzapfel said.
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