(TNS) — The head of a local foundation on Monday asked the Anniston City Council for the city's help paying about $500,000 toward an expansive technology initiative for local schools.
Donald Stewart, a local attorney and founder of the Stewart Family Foundation, discussed plans to put digital devices into the hands of every student in grades 1-12 in Anniston City Schools as well as schools in Wellborn and Saks. Additionally, the project would include installation of a citywide Wi-Fi network for all of those students to access the Internet while at home.
"This could be a boon to this area like nobody's business," Stewart told council members.
The Stewart Family Foundation in 2008 created the nonprofit Anniston Fiber Optics to provide broadband high-speed Internet access to Anniston schools. Anniston Fiber Optics received $1.2 million in Alabama Department of Education state grants, among other grants, and money from the Stewart Family Foundation to install the 25 miles of fiber optic cable, providing high-speed broadband Internet to Anniston schools, in addition to Gadsden State Community College's Ayers and McClellan campuses and the Calhoun County Technical School.
Stewart said Monday that the foundation has agreed to spend $25,000 for engineering work to design the Wi-Fi system.
Stewart said he is awaiting a court order that will allow a portion of the Monsanto settlement to be used toward the technology project as well. The project also includes upgrades to Anniston schools' Internet routers and switches, he said.
Stewart asked the city to contribute between $500,000 and $600,000 toward the estimated $1.5 million project. He urged the city, however, to continue making allocations to the city school's innovation fund, used in years past to help pay for pre-K classes.
Mayor Jack Draper expressed enthusiasm for the project and recommended the council meet jointly with the city's school board to discuss it further.
©2016 The Anniston Star (Anniston, Ala.), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.