Voters in Fremont, Neb., approved a $123 million bond issue intended to improve K-12 education, including expanding mobile device capacity, and growing IT career training opportunities.

The bond will cover a wide array of issues, including expanding mobile device capacity, creating a technical career center, improving school safety, and modernizing building facilities.

One key component of the bond issue combines the need to expand mobile broadband support and the need to renovate classrooms to bring them into the 21st century. Three elementary school buildings that were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s are slated for replacement under the bond measure. Fremont Public Schools (FPS) explained in a press release that the schools in question have classrooms equipped with only two electrical outlets – one in the front and one in the back of the classroom. While this may have been sufficient in the 1960s, with the current reliance on technology two outlets are no longer enough.

“The district has done an outstanding job of providing connectivity – the challenge is having enough access to electricity in the classrooms for keeping the devices charged,” commented Cliff Huss, FPS Director of IT. “With every student having a portable device, at some point during the day (or night) 5,000 devices need to be recharged, this doesn’t even take into consideration other devices utilized in the classroom that require electricity.”

The bond also allocates $9.5 million for the construction of a stand-alone Career & Technical Education Center that will serve high school students. The building will have 3-4 clean labs and 3-4 dirty labs. School officials said the clean labs could facilitate programming such as Health Occupations, Health Tech, Computer Graphic Design, Architecture/Drafting, Computer Technician/Coding, Robotics, and Automation. The dirty labs could house programming such as Welding, Industrial Maintenance Technician, Automotive Tech, Diesel Tech, and Construction Tech. The labs will be designed and equipped so they can be changed out periodically to meet the changing needs and opportunities presented by local industry, school officials said.

FPS officials said that further planning for the facility upgrades will begin immediately with construction commencing as early as next spring, and all projects completed in the next three to four years.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs