Some Toledo Public Schools students will soon be able to earn college credit through online courses at the University of Toledo, thanks to a unique partnership that calls for TPS to provide free laptops and Buckeye CableSystem to install free at-home Internet service.

Dr. Romules Durant, CEO/Superintendent of TPS, and Buckeye executives announced at a news conference on Tuesday, December 2, that starting in January, TPS will provide laptop computers to 25 students from Woodward and Scott high schools enrolled in the district’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program -- and Buckeye will install at-home Internet service for those students on a no-cost basis.

 “Armed with these essential 21st century academic resources, TPS students will earn college credits that also count toward high school graduation requirements,” said James Gault, Executive Transformational Leader for TPS.

Research demonstrates that Internet access is an important factor in how children learn and whether they succeed academically and beyond. At-home Internet access can boost high school graduation rates by 6 to 8 percent, studies have found, yet socio-economic realities mean that some students do not have access to the Internet and fall behind their peers, something called the ‘digital divide.’

“Buckeye CableSystem will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015, and this Internet access project is one way we can celebrate and continue our history of giving back to the communities we serve,” said Keith Wilkowski, Buckeye’s vice president of business and legal affairs.

Some more specifics of the TPS/Buckeye Internet Access Program:

  • The 25 students chosen will participate in the State of Ohio’s Postsecondary Early Options (PSEO) program which permits high school students to enroll in college courses while still in high school.
  • Buckeye will provide Internet service at the students’ homes, with 5Mbps download/1Mbps upload speeds at no-cost to the families for installation or monthly service charges. Buckeye will also offer the students, at no charge, its recently launched “Buckeye Brainiac” service which provides maintenance and support for computing devices.
  • Students will enroll in the University of Toledo for the second semester of the current academic year which begins January 12 and ends May 8, 2015. They will take online courses, solving transportation problems that have prevented many TPS students from taking advantage of the PSEO program.

At the conclusion of the pilot project, Buckeye and TPS will evaluate the program and consider whether there are resources to make the program available on a larger scale.