Community Blog: The EDge

Could feds help pay for WiFi in Idaho schools?

The federally administered “e-rate” funding program — much maligned by state elected officials — could actually provide a boon to Idaho.

The Federal Communications Commission is looking at new rules that could free up e-rate money for WiFi in 726 Idaho schools and 143 Idaho libraries. FCC commissioners are expected to vote on the rule changes Friday. If the rules go through, e-rate dollars to offset the state’s cost of hooking up WiFi in high schools and junior high schools, and the state could use the savings to accelerate WiFi installation in elementary and middle schools.

“We’re very excited,” said state schools superintendent Tom Luna, who, along with colleagues in other states, has been pushing for an e-rate upgrade.

The new FCC rules would not address one e-rate funding issue: the millions of dollars of payments for the Idaho Education Network school broadband system. Those payments have been on hold for 16 months.

For more details, here’s a link to my story at Idaho Education News.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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