Upgrades will put Osceola students online



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Students in Osceola County will soon be able to bring their own wireless devices to school and connect to the district's internet.

For years, teachers told students to turn their cellphones off. Now the school district will spend millions so students can have their cellphones, iPads and laptops on.

Osceola High School's new renovations are allowing it to be a pilot school.

"It was a huge relief. I'm really involved here, so I'm on campus more than I'm at home," said student Lorraine Hoyas.

Hoyas said the "new bring your own device" policy allows her to study more.

"I don't have a third period, I have the option to go home, but did this on purpose, so I would be forced to work on my online class," said Hoyas.

It will cost between $500,000 and $1 million to upgrade older schools with Wi-Fi, according to the school district. The equipment needed to run the system will be a big part of that cost.

"The challenge for the district is going to be to get every school to where we are, otherwise they're going to fall farther and farther behind," said Osceola High School Principal Jim Digiacomo.

Digiacomo said that by the end of 2014 the new standardized tests will all be online.

"I don't ever want to get to where in the media center the books are museum pieces, but more and more we move away from them," said Digiacomo.

"It's preparing me for the real world," said Hoyas.

Osceola County plans to have wireless access at all of its high schools within five years. The state's proposed budget includes money to help pay for the upgrades.