Amherst school officials have said 35% of students lack access to reliable, high-speed Internet, based on a recent survey.
“That’s ridiculous,” Tucker said of the gap in service. “What we’re facing here in rural Virginia is unacceptable.”
Amherst Schools Superintendent Rob Arnold said the division is working with a consultant, Lit Communities, on bringing all students up to speed with Internet capabilities regardless of where they reside. The county also is participating in those talks and a build out plan for upgrades is part of a study of assets and needs, County Administrator Dean Rodgers has said.
Some students have to go to parking lots of local schools and businesses to have adequate WiFi coverage.
“That’s a hard pill to swallow,” Kennon said on students underserved with broadband capabilities.
“We’re looking for a fix going forward,” Tucker said. “If we need a Band-Aid to help our students, I’m OK with that for the next year.”
Tucker was the only supervisor to support a recent request from Verizon Wireless to construct a 195-foot-tall cell tower on land on Phyllis Lea Drive, which drew opposition from a group of Elon-area residents who said it would disrupt their views of Tobacco Row Mountain and adversely affect land values. The tower, which failed on a 4-1 vote to secure a special exception that would allow its construction, was aimed at helping the county boost its broadband coverage.
While several supervisors said they hope a better location could be found for the company’s goals, Tucker said she believes the county can be more supportive of private providers. She said she accepts looking at a blinking cell tower on Panther Mountain where she lives and doesn’t feel it impedes on her scenic view because its presence is helping people.
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