New York State School Boards Association


August 1, 2013 


The Obama administration is seeking a comprehensive modernization of the E-rate program.  At a series of recent events, several state associations with congressional members on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee engaged with the National School Boards Association to share the school board perspective on the E-rate program.

E-Rate, the commonly used name for the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, is administered under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The program provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the U.S. to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access.  Funding is requested under four categories of service: telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections.  Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty (based on the percentage of public school students eligible for the national school lunch program) and the urban/rural status of the population served, and range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services.  The E-Rate program provided $2.2 billion dollars in discounts in year 2012 to more than 36,000 high-need school, school district, library and consortia applicants.  Funding sought for year 2013 is in excess of $4.9 billion dollars, of which New York State would receive close to $19 million dollars.

In modernizing the E-Rate program, the FCC proposes three goals: (1) increased broadband capacity for schools and libraries; (2) cost-effective purchasing; and (3) streamlined program administration.  To that end, the FCC released a Fact Sheet and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) calling for comments on all aspects of the program, including goals and measures, funding and resources, equitable distribution of funds, shifting prioritizes to increase access to high speed Broadband and increasing transparency of the program.

NYSSBA is calling on school board members to review the fact sheet and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and send us input on how to improve the E-rate program.  The deadline for comments is September 16, so please send your comments to Francine Campbell, Governmental Relations Representative, by Friday, September 13, 2013.

NYSSBA is counting on you to do your part in ensuring Congress hears the collective voice of New York school board members!

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