On Dec. 31, 1998 the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD; formerly known as the Schools and Libraries Corp.) issued its fourth wave of funding commitment letters to 1998 eRate applicants. More than 1,080 letters were sent, totaling $33.4 million in discounts. Two weeks later, the agency issued a special “library wave” of 1,300 letters committing $8 million to libraries. The two waves bring the total number of letters sent to nearly 10,000, with a total funding of about $215 million.

Special measures for libraries

About 17 percent of all 1998 applicants were libraries. Though the representation of libraries increased from 7 percent in wave three to 13 percent in wave four, libraries still had been underrepresented in the commitment phase until now.

According to Mickey Revenaugh, the newly designated library liaison for the SLD, the special “library wave” issued Jan. 14 was intended to bring both the number and dollar share of funding commitments to libraries into line with their total representation among eRate applicants.

“We are passionately committed to ensuring access by our nation’s libraries to all aspects of the eRate program,” Revenaugh said. “When we saw that libraries were not well represented in the early waves of letters, we took immediate corrective actions.”

The special library wave was just the beginning of the agency’s stepped-up efforts toward libraries, Revenaugh said. Other steps will include biweekly conference calls with national library leaders, the dissemination to state librarians and their technology staff of detailed state-by-state reports of eRate library recipients, and the development of library-specific guidance documents.

Internal connections threshold applied

Wave four was the first wave in which the SLD implemented its recently-announced threshold for internal connection requests. As eRate Update reported last month, the SLD has determined that there won’t be enough money to fund internal connections for applicants who qualify for discounts below 50 percent.

Starting with wave four, applicants with internal connection requests below the 50 percent discount level will be notified in their funding commitment letters that these requests will be unfunded due to a lack of funds. The SLD will continue to commit funds for internal connection requests at the 90 percent discount level and will determine in future waves if funds are available for internal connections at discounts between 50 and 89 percent.

All approved requests for telecommunications services and internet access received within the 1998 application window will continue to be funded, regardless of an applicant’s discount level.

A state-by-state list of funding commitment letter recipients, by wave, is posted on the SLD’s web site:

http://www.slcfund.org/