School & District Management

E-Rate Funding Requests Booming; Application Deadline Extended

By Benjamin Herold — March 17, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Atlanta

School systems across the country are poised to make big requests for new federal dollars to subsidize the cost of high-speed broadband and wireless networks, but many are scrambling to understand and respond to changes to the E-rate program following a major overhaul by the Federal Communications Commission in 2014.

Based on early data, it will be no surprise if requests for E-rate dollars hit $5.1 billion or more this year, said John Harrington, CEO of Funds for Learning, an Edmond, Okla., company that consults with districts on the E-rate. That would be up from about $4.9 billion in requests last year, said Harrington, speaking at the annual conference of the Consortium for School Networking, being held here.

But the FCC has extended its deadline for E-rate applications from March 26 to April 16, in part because schools are struggling to provide the new data and information the commission is requiring, Harrington said.

“We’re encouraging schools to apply for all [the funding] they can use,” he said. “I know at the FCC, their desire is to fund every application, and they will do everything in their power to make sure that happens.”

In December, the FCC approved raising the annual cap on the E-rate program from $2.4 to $3.9 billion. Earlier in the year, the commission also voted to overhaul the program to provide greater support for internal wireless networks and to dedicate $2 billion in existing reserves to support such equipment as routers, switches, and wireless access points.

In part because demand for external broadband connections has been so high, such equipment has typically not been funded via the E-rate program in recent years. Many schools had basically “given up” on ever getting E-rate funds for internal connections, Harrington said.

(Download Education Week’s free spotlight with our in-depth E-rate coverage here.)

But this year, it looks like the average district will be requesting about $140,000 for wireless infrastructure, based on a preliminary Funds for Learning analysis. A regulatory change in the program will also help: All school sites within a given district will now be eligible for the same discount, rather than such discounts being determined on a site-by-site basis.

That new demand for wireless infrastructure is paired with ever-growing demand for external broadband connections.

The growth in requests for those two sets of services will be partially offset by the FCC’s gradual discontinuation of support for phone, email, and other “legacy” technologies. Available support for phone services is down 20 percent this year, Harrington said.

Another challenge facing E-rate applicants this year is a revamped application process that is now all-electronic and that requires much more detail than in previous years.

The FCC is “very interested in getting a better picture of where E-rate money is being spent,” which is a good thing, said Harrington.

But it’s causing “serious headaches” for those preparing the applications, he said, because many district staff responsible for E-rate are both overwhelmed with other responsibilities and not fully informed about the technical details of their own networks.

About three-fourths of schools said they needed more time to prepare their applications, according to a recent Funds for Learning survey.


See also:


for the latest news on ed-tech policies, practices, and trends.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Letter to the Editor School Mask Mandates: Pandemic, ‘Panicdemic,’ or Personal?
"A pandemic is based on facts. A 'panicdemic' is based on fears. Today, we have both," writes a professor.
1 min read
School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP
School & District Management Opinion 'Futures Thinking' Can Help Schools Plan for the Next Pandemic
Rethinking the use of time and place for teachers and students, taking risks, and having a sound family-engagement plan also would help.
17 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion The Consequence of Public-Health Officials Racing to Shutter Schools
Public-health officials' lack of concern for the risks of closing schools may shed light on Americans' reticence to embrace their directives.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty