Michigan's Alpena Public Schools is a medium-sized rural district with 6,000 students and 15 buildings spread out across 620 square miles. Last year, the district applied for and received nearly $600,000—or about $100 per student—in eRate funds.

With up to 30 miles separating some of its buildings, Alpena can appreciate the value of modern telecommunications. And thanks to the eRate, six of the district's buildings will be connected in a fiber optic wide area network (WAN) by the end of the summer, according to Mark Samp, the district's director of information technology . ...

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