At the February 7th Board of Supervisors meeting, Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter presented the award of a $1.8 million Broadband Initiative Grant, to the Yavapai County Education Technology Consortium, which will be complimented by the e-Rate program. The program will be paying for up to 100% of the construction costs to bring high speed, low cost, fiber-based internet access to Yavapai County public and charter schools and public libraries.
Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rowle Simmons said, “This project is very important and the board completely supports the important work that Schools Superintendent Tim Carter and the entire technology consortium is doing.”
The Yavapai County Education Technology Consortium (YCETC)—made up of school districts, charter schools, and libraries, facilitated by Tim Carter, Yavapai County School Superintendent, and led by Stan Goligoski, Executive Director of Yavapai County Education Service Agency (YCESA) and Frank Vander Horst, the e-Rate Manager for the agency—have taken advantage of a program offered by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and supplemented by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to provide high-speed internet to rural schools.
The FCC is offering to pay for construction of new Fiber optic lines if the state is willing to provide funds to cover 10% of the cost. Working with Andy Tobin, a member of the Corporation Commission, the Consortium was able to find the funds necessary to cover the required 10%.
There are 61 schools in Yavapai County that will be receiving high-speed internet in the next year to 18 months because of the work of the consortium has done. Schools Superintendent Carter said, “There are at least three schools that had no access, and several that have slow access and are paying far too much for it. With e-rate when the Consortium spends a million dollars we will get about 90% of that back.” The Consortium can then savings the next year and get 90% of that back. A one million dollar investment ends up returning almost 14 million dollars in value.
Stan Goligoski, Executive Director, Yavapai County Education Services Agency said, “About five years ago, when we stated this consortium, we knew there was a huge problem with high speed internet at our rural schools. There just wasn’t anything we could do about it. Teachers would have to start a download the night before so the kids could see the educational video the next day.”
Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman Randy Garrison said, “Currently none of the schools in Yavapai County meet the FCC recommendations for bandwidth. The work this consortium is doing will support our local schools and the entire community in our efforts to prepare the next generation of community leaders.” School districts that will be receiving the new high-speed internet service will become anchor sites within the community, allowing vendors to provide much faster and more cost effective broadband to local citizens and businesses, and presenting significant economic development opportunities throughout the county.