- A new infographic from Funds for Learning highlights school needs related to internet connectivity, including pricing estimates, upcoming hardware replacements, and cost per student for a new deployment of WiFi.
- Last year, E-rate funding requests totaled $3.9 billion, and this year they're estimated to be around $5.8 billion.
- E-Rate supports President Barack Obama's ConnectED initiative, which aims to provide high-speed Internet access to 99% of classrooms by 2018.
E-Rate subsidies can help districts immensely by defraying a substantial amount of the costs associated with increasing internet connectivity and instating modern hardware in school buildings. Yet using the program needs to be done carefully and thoroughly. Records need to be saved and kept to correspond with all E-Rate bids and business.
In various cities and states, E-Rate fraud has been an issue, and records help provide a trail of accountability. In December, a $3 million settlement was announced in relation to the New York City Department of Education's alleged violations of competitive bidding rules in the FCC’s E-rate program. The NYC DOE was forced to cancel all of its E-rate funding requests from 2011-2013, pay $3 million to resolve the conflict, file compliance reports, retain all E-rate related documents for 10 years and appoint an E-rate Compliance Officer.
School officials and taxpayers in Cleveland, OH, faced a different kind of problem. There, a total of $8.57 million worth of federal E-rate rebates were never collected between 2006-2011. District lawyers say it's impossible to collect the money, and taxpayers will be responsible for the bill.