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E-Rate | News

NSBA Makes Recommendations for Improving E-Rate

In response to the FCC's request for suggestions about modernizing the E-Rate program, National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel has offered a series of recommendations.

Gentzel commented, “To successfully usher in a new future for E-rate, NSBA urges the FCC to ground modernization of E-Rate in the individual circumstances of the nation’s 14,000 school districts and 98,000 public schools... Local decision-making and local flexibility should be maximized in implementation of the E-Rate program."

He went on to assert, "Simply repurposing or rearranging priorities for the $2.5 billion E-rate program is not sufficient to achieve the ambitious goals of the ConnectED initiative, and could impact school district finances and operations in ways that make it even more difficult for low-income and rural schools and libraries to meet the instructional needs of their students."

Gentzel also made specific recommendations, urging the FCC to do the following:

  1. Focus $2 billion in one-time funding for E-Rate on Priority 2 services for broadband deployment.
  2. Establish a menu of options for schools and libraries making transitions from legacy services to broadband. NSBA, Gentzel said, supports refocusing E-Rate on broadband connectivity, but cautions against eliminating eligible uses of E-Rate funds without support for school districts during the transition. 
  3. Eliminate demonstration programs, pilots, or other carve-outs from E-Rate 2.0 unless they are resourced by other Universal Service or alternative funds. 

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is editor in chief of THE Journal.

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