© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Remember Erie Net? The broadband initiative is resuming

Akron Central Schools

This last year has been bad for many, not just because of the coronavirus, but schools closing or operating part-time and many parents working from home. All of that works if those homes have internet access and many don’t.

A casualty of the pandemic was Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s plans for Erie Net, a 360-mile broadband backbone across. The cost to municipal finance has been too high, as more essential pandemic-related expenses take priority. However, Poloncarz on Wednesday said the new federal stimulus bill will pay for the system, with planning and engineering now to start this year.

Akron School Superintendent Pa

trick McCabe knows why it’s needed, with 10% of his students unable to connect to the web.

"Essentially, it’s an infrastructure issue, that there aren’t accessible internet towers out there for families to connect with," McCabe said. "So even if they have a device or have the ability to afford internet, there is no infrastructure for them to connect with."

McCabe said even if kids are back in class five days a week, better web access is needed to let parents work from home and kids do their homework.

Akron Schools also resumed in-person attendance of Board of Education meetings Wednesday evening. Attendees are required to wear masks at all times, maintain social distance, have their temperature taken and complete a health-screening questionnaire before proceed to the high school's cafeteria, "where socially distanced seating will be available."

WBFO's Marian Hetherly contributed to this story.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Related Content