Editor's Note (The View From Here)

More on High-Speed Access (Or Lack of it) in U.S. Schools

In October of 2017, I wrote about the Education Superhighway’s “2017 State of the States” report in which it was reported that an estimated 6.5 million students, most of whom are in the nation’s 1,587 rural K-12 schools, are currently without access to high-speed Internet. The problem is that the schools that don’t have the infrastructure necessary to provide this high-speed access. The federal E-rate, program was created to help school districts attain better access to the Internet.

According to the Education Superhighway, this federal help isn’t getting to these districts in a timely manner due to excessive scrutiny, inconsistency in the application of rules, and a lack of clarity on process changes. They blame the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees E-rate program administrator Universal Service Administration Company (USAC).

The problems are so extensive that they have created a new website to list and keep track of the districts that are being affected by these delays and denials. On that site, they contend the FCC could accelerate approval of these broadband projects by directing the USAC “to eliminate the red tape in the E-rate application process.”

According to the site, 38 fiber optics projects in 17 states have been awaiting decisions since last year. In addition, the group says 61 projects in 28 states have been “unfairly denied.”

It is hard for me to understand why more people do not consider this a high priority. Visit the website, delaysanddenials.org, for more details and suggestions about what you can do to speed up this process.

Healthy Facilities

Included in this issue is a special section containing the winners of our second annual Healthy Facilities Awards. This awards program was created in partnership with the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI). It is designed to acknowledge the thousands of caring individuals who work in the nation’s public and private schools and colleges, creating and maintaining healthy environments for the students and staff. You will find details about the award recipients starting on page 29. We also plan to present some highlights from the winning entries during a webinar on May 2 entitled Cleaning Essentials: Tools Needed to Make a Healthy Change. You can register for that on our website, webSPM.com.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of School Planning & Management.

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