Today, Governor Matt Mead recognized the achievements of school districts under the Wyoming Classroom Connectivity Initiative. The program, a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Department of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), the Wyoming Department of Education and national non-profit EducationSuperHighway, was designed to help schools make use of their federally allocated E-rate funds for Wi-Fi access in classrooms.
Since its launch in 2016, the initiative has been successful in getting Wyoming school districts to take advantage of over $4.6 million in E-rate Category 2 funding. This milestone comes at a critical time since the funding is only guaranteed through 2019 under current Federal Communications Commission guidelines. The efforts to ensure Wyoming schools are equipped with the Wi-Fi connections necessary to enable world-class teaching and learning is in line with Governor Mead’s vision of bringing world class technology and fiber infrastructure to the state.
“Wyoming’s school district administrators are doing everything in their power to leverage opportunities for technology funding available by the E-rate Category 2 funding being offered,” Governor Mead said. “I am proud of the work our school districts are doing to make high speed classroom connectivity and digital learning a priority.”
“Using these funds is a no-brainer for us since it frees up money to use in our district elsewhere,” said Vern McAdams, Director of Business & Operations at Sublette County School District #1. “That’s a teacher’s salary we’re talking about here.”
Initiative leaders used a multi-pronged approach to raise awareness and ensure usage of the funds, including direct outreach and education to all of Wyoming’s 48 school districts, conducting E-rate trainings and webinars across the state, and supporting districts through the procurement cycle for equipment. The assistance comes at no cost to the districts or the state.
The success of this initiative has been instrumental in carrying out the statewide Digital Learning Plan, designed by state statute to provide equal access to education through technology. “Wyoming has emerged as a leader in K-12 broadband connectivity which has improved Internet access in classrooms,” statewide Digital Learning Plan architect, Dr. Laurel Ballard of the Wyoming Department of Education said. “The next step is to aid educators in fully utilizing the resources that are now available for our kids. The Classroom Connectivity Initiative ensures that the Internet access we’ve invested in gets to student devices through robust and reliable Wi-Fi, and can be used for 21st century teaching and learning.”
EducationSuperHighway Founder and CEO Evan Marwell praised the state’s commitment to its students through the initiative. “The cross-agency work we have seen in Wyoming the past three years to achieve these results has been incredible,” Marwell said. “The Governor’s leadership combined with impressive execution from the Department of Enterprise Technology Services and the Wyoming Department of Education have resulted in Wyoming students receiving the educational opportunities they deserve.”
36 out of 48 school districts have accessed funding and work is currently underway to engage the remaining 12 districts this year. Districts that still have available Category 2 funds are encouraged to contact state E-rate coordinator, Clementina Jimenez to find out how to receive free assistance from the Classroom Connectivity Initiative.