Administration Changes Wifi Policy


Chelsea Foster

Students returned to school on Monday February 20 to find that they could no longer access the wireless internet at school.

Roughly 149 million smartphones were sold worldwide during the 2011 holiday season, according to Gartner Research.

While this statistic may sound good for the economy, it has only caused problems for students and faculty at Decatur.

“After Christmas, we had so many new devices online that our computers wouldn’t work. Our tech guy, Jason Wade, was called up to a classroom where all the laptops had been trying to sync for 20 minutes. He asked everyone in the classroom to take out their devices and turn them off, and almost immediately, every computer logged on. So that’s what started it,” Media Assistant Susan Riley said.

Students returned to school after February break to find that the wifi password had been changed.

“I was pretty upset when I found out about the change. Since I take online classes, I need my computer every day. That’s why I got my laptop in the first place,” senior Cecilia Kuehnel said.

Contrary to what some believe, the password change isn’t only affecting students.

“As of right now, we’re also keeping all teacher devices off the network, too. It’s not just directed at students; we’re not trying to be overly restrictive,” Technology Specialist Jason Wade said. “We’re just limiting wireless capabilities to school-owned devices.”

With so much money invested in technology for the school, the administration had to make this change, Riley said.

“Once we realized how unbelievably slow the server was, it took just a few days for everyone to get together, and they said this is really just a no-choice situation,” Riley said. “Our computers have to work for the kids who don’t have those devices at home, for the kids who come to school and are solely dependent on the technology we offer here. So until we can get a plan B, we have to go with plan A, and that’s to take everybody off of the wireless, including me! My phone is running on 3G now!”

There is, actually, a plan B, but Wade said it may take a while to implement.

“Ideally, I’d love to get a new guest network today, but we just don’t have the money right now,” Wade said.

The school’s current wireless provider hasn’t yet given the administration an estimate on the cost of a new network, but Riley worries that it is an expense the budget simply won’t allow this school year.

“Trying to find that kind of money this time of year is hard. I know they’re trying to figure it out, but it really concerns me that we’ve got 11 weeks of school left, and we don’t even have any money to buy more printer cartridges. So if we’re having trouble coming up with printer cartridge money, then I don’t know how we’re going to get a guest wifi account this year.”

Though a guest network may not be realistic to expect this year, Keuhnel and the other online students are not being overlooked.

“Right now, the librarians are talking with the administration about whether or not the online kids can have access to the wifi, and it’s been just as huge a hassle for them as it’s been for us,” Kuehnel said. “I’m hoping they’ll change things and make life a little bit easier for all of us.”

Her hopes may come true, said Wade.

“We’re looking into how we can support the online students. The reason the password got out before was because we gave it out to some people and they spread it around to their friends and whatnot, so we’re trying to figure out how we can support those students, but also keep the network from going wide open again.”