Alabama commits $12M to beef up wireless in poor and rural schools

By Tim Lockette, The Anniston Star
February 25th, 2016


State House of Representatives passes unanimous vote to fund increased wireless networks

In a rare unanimous vote, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to free up $12 million that could help poor and rural schools get wireless broadband inside their walls. Benefited

“The beauty of this bill is the equity,” said Rep. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, the bill’s sponsor.

Lawmakers voted 105-0 for the bill, often called the Wired Act, that aims to fix a convoluted problem that, Chesteen says, has held some schools back where information technology is concerned.

For years, the federal government has helped local schools buy computers through E-rate, the money it collects through a service fee charged to telecommunications companies. To get E-rate money, though, local systems have to pitch in matching funds.

Small and low-income districts often don’t have the money for those matching funds, Chesteen said, and 91 districts are poised to miss out on a large E-rate payout if they don’t make a mid-March deadline. Chesteen’s bill would take $12 million from a state fund for school technology to pay for the match.

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