When Michael Hanson became superintendent of California’s Fresno Unified School District in 2005, the district was on the verge of a state takeover, and an audit revealed it was the worst in the state in terms of ed-tech use.

Under Hanson’s leadership, Fresno used the results of the audit as a guide for rebuilding its staffing and infrastructure. Using eRate discounts “wisely and systematically,” he said, has allowed the district to deliver a fiber-optic network to its more than 100 buildings.

For guiding a turnaround that has seen Fresno progress from worst in...

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