On Friday, May 5, 2017, the Arizona Legislature passed its fiscal year 2018 budget. One of the most important budget priorities for the Arizona Department of Education received funding, which was the Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative.
The legislature appropriated $3 million to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for this broadband expansion project.
The Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative is a project to ensure that every public K-12 instructional building in the state is connected via high-speed and reliable broadband connections in order to enable digital learning in the classroom. Equal access to broadband services is critical to the success of a child’s education in the 21st century, especially for underserved children from small schools in rural parts of Arizona. Currently, only 23 percent of Arizona school districts meet national affordability benchmarks for broadband access.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offered enhanced discounts for special construction of broadband infrastructure based on a dollar-for-dollar state match up to 10 percent of the total project cost. The Arizona Governor’s office, the Corporation Commission, the Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, the Secretary of State, and the nonprofit organization EducationSuperHighway have partnered to make this project become a reality.
The successful funding by the Arizona Legislature is a decisive win for everyone concerned who have been in the trenches from the beginning, fighting for this broadband project. Now it’s time to role up the proverbial sleeves and get busy in making broadband available to all Arizona schools and libraries. Please visit EducationSuperHighway or ADE’s Broadband blog for more information.