Georgia Governor Nathan Deal recently announced that 136 local education authorities (LEAs) will be receiving over $25.3 million from the second round of the Connections for Classrooms grant program.
According to the technology director for Whitfield County Schools, Tim Shaver, some students cannot currently connect to the Internet while at school. He believes the grant will fix the problem by as much as tripling a school's wireless capability.
"The goal is that kids will be able to use digital technology, mobile carts, laptops- to be able to access the internet, do online testing and do video," Shaver says.
The county received $86,000 from the first round of the grant program in October, which Shaver said went to purchasing equipment to offer the core internet connection. "This grant money is to get it from the central office into the classroom," Shaver said.
The first round of grant funding required schools to detail technology expansion plans in addition to explaining how the funding would help them to implement digital and blended learning, and increase student achievement.
The money will allow the LEAs, which constitute 134 districts as well as two state charter schools, to receive up to $90.9 million in federal E-rate funding. This amount will bring the total investment into school and classroom network infrastructure up to $116.2 million.
âIn order to succeed in the 21st century job market, our students must master 21st century skills,' said Deal. âIn 2012, I charged my Digital Learning Task Force with developing a strategy to improve student achievement through digital learning implementation across the state. With these funds in place, our schools are closer than ever to attaining the necessary technology infrastructure and to better preparing Georgia' s students for life outside the classroom.'
A third round will be open for applications this coming July, which will allow local schools who either did not apply earlier or those who still have additional E-Rate eligible needs after round 2 to participate.
The program is a funding effort made possible through a partnership between the Governor' s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), the Georgia Department of Education and the One Georgia Authority, in an effort to ensure that classrooms throughout the state have access to the high-speed broadband necessary for digital and blended learning for all students.