Four more districts are in the pipeline, and at this point the Wi-Fi installation project is proceeding on schedule, says Luci Willits, chief of staff to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.
The controversial Wi-Fi contract, awarded to Nashville, Tenn.-based Education Networks of America a little more than a month ago, will cover high schools and junior high schools across the state. Its still unclear exactly how many schools will wind up getting the Wi-Fi service, Willits said this week.
But in two schools in eastern Idahos Sugar-Salem School District, the Wi-Fi work is done.
Site surveys have been finished in Bear Lake, Lewiston, Cottonwood and Whitepine, and those districts are next in line to receive Wi-Fi, Willits said.
More than 110 school districts and public charter schools have decided to opt in for the state-provided Wi-Fi and most want the work done quickly. Sixty-three want Wi-Fi as soon as possible, Willits said; another 27 want Wi-Fi by October.
But one school doesnt want Wi-Fi installed until May, which is technically past the March 15 contract deadline to complete work.
While the Wi-Fi project has widespread support from schools, the contract has its critics.
Gov. Butch Otter and some lawmakers have questioned the deal and the use of one-time money to bankroll a long-running agreement.
The 2013 Legislature earmarked $2.25 million for the Wi-Fi project, but the state signed a five-year agreement with ENA. With options, the contract could extend to 15 years at a taxpayer cost of $33.3 million.
Other bidders have raised questions as well, particularly Tek-Hut of Twin Falls, the low bidder on the contract.
Tek-Hut submitted two bids, including one at a first-year cost of $1,649,000 21 percent below the successful ENA bid of $2,111,655. The state received 10 bids for the contract, four coming in below ENAs price.
But a review committee of state Education Department staffers, school district officials and private sector representatives unanimously selected ENA.