WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Technology can often be taken for granted. “Even those children that come on-site may need to learn online at some point based on how a Covid spike may happen here in central Iowa,” said Laine Mendenhall-Buck who is the Director of School and Community Relations within the West Des Moines Community School District.
When the district decided to give parents the power of choice between online or full-time in person learning this fall it became evident just how many families have no internet. Leaving hundreds of families with no real choice at all. “We have exceeded the 250 that we estimated to date for the number of families that may need this kind of support,” said Mendenhall-Buck.
Parents have until July 31st to decide which option to choose. As of Friday July 24th the district, which has nearly 9,000 students, has received 3,804 responses 75% have chosen in classroom learning while 24% will be learning online this fall. Mendenhall-Buck said, “It would be difficult for them to choose online if they didn’t have access at home.”
The West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation and the district have teamed up with Mediacom for an adopt-a-family program. A $120 community donation gives a family internet for a year. “This adopt-a-family program really lets us close that gap for only $120 a year,” said Mendenhall-Buck. There are guidelines for applying. “Families who indicate through our enrollment process that they don’t have internet will be contacted by us and we will do our best to see if this partnership can work for their situation,” Mendenhall-Buck said.
Of the nearly 9,000 students in the West Des Moines school district, 37% qualified for free or reduced lunch during the 2019-2020 school year. That’s over a 1/3 of students and their families struggling to put food on the table. “We also know that our most vulnerable population that which may have lower socioeconomic status or that lack of technology may not have even enrolled yet,” Mendenhall-Buck said.
Now when they do enroll, the road to success may not require as many detours. Mendenhall-Buck said, “Whatever we can do along with the foundation to come along and support our families, that’s what we are all about.”
You can help donate by going to www.wdmcsfoundation.org or calling 515-633-5023