School boards welcome improvements to federal E-Rate program for schools


School boards should be pleased with recent initiatives to strengthen the E-rate program, including the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) approved today by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The NPRM represents the most comprehensive call for modernization of the School and Libraries Universal Service Support mechanism (E-rate) program since it was enacted in 1996. It calls for comments on all aspects of the program, including funding and resources, equitable distribution of funds, adjusting priorities to increase access to high speed broadband, increasing cost effectiveness and transparency, and streamlining administration of the program.

The NPRM caps off a week that included a hearing on E-rate modernization in the Senate Commerce Committee, and a plan proposed by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.

“E-rate is a vital source of assistance for high-need schools in maintaining Internet connectivity, enhancing digital learning opportunities, and helping school districts set and meet 21st Century technology goals,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.

“NSBA welcomes this opportunity to energize the process of updating E-rate and meeting the needs of students and schools. To assure that E-rate is successful, it is important to provide adequate resources to schools. Requests for assistance by high-need schools and libraries are more than double the current resources in the E-rate program.


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