Broadband for Montana Schools Awards 2 Grants, Additional Funding Available

Schools can learn how to access funding during a Feb. 23 webinar

Thursday, February 22, 2018/Categories: Community Development Division

Internet fiber cables

Two Montana public schools have been awarded state match funds to pay for special construction charges for broadband upgrades, increasing Internet access for their students.

The Broadband for Montana Schools program has approved funding for Belfry K-12 Schools and West Valley Elementary.

Kalispell’s West Valley Elementary has already completed its project to construct a lit fiber network, increasing Internet speeds to 100 megabits per second.

Thanks to $2 million in funding made possible through House Bill 390, and assistance from the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway, improved broadband connectivity is now a reality for more Montana schools. Broadband for Montana Schools provides a state match to leverage broadband funds available through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) E-rate program for Montana’s public K-12 schools.

“It couldn’t have worked out any better for us,” said West Valley Technology Director Mark Wilson. “All of the support was there, our E-rate consultant assisted in filing the E-rate paperwork, EducationSuperHighway kept us coordinated on next steps, and the state matching fund helped pay for the cost of the upgrade.”

Now, West Valley Elementary pays half as much for more than four-times the bandwidth, improving access to 21st century learning tools and reliability for students.

“Reliable high-speed Internet access is a critical part of growing Montana’s economy,” Montana Department of Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote said. “Our schools are often the center of our communities, and this funding will go a long way in boosting broadband access for public schools and in turn our communities.”

School leaders are encouraged to learn more during a February 23 webinar, or apply directly to the program.



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