In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Wisconsin Congressmen Mark Pocan (D-WI 2nd) and Ron Kind (D-WI 3rd) raised concerns about the proposed cap on federal E-Rate allocations that are used to fund school connectivity to high-speed broadband (see previous post) as well as the overall cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF), which supplies E-Rate funds. The two joined with several other House members in expressing concerns.
As we noted in an earlier post, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing an overall cap on Universal Service Fund (USF) revenue and a sub-cap on USF allocations to the E-Rate and Rural Health Care programs. We are concerned these actions could potentially damage these important programs, and especially E-Rate.
The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on its proposal, which could force the four programs funded under USF, including E-Rate, to battle each other for funds. The FCC is calling for comments by a July 15 deadline with reply comments due thirty days later. This is an especially tough deadline for schools to meet, as most are out for the summer and, chances are, few teachers and administrators are focused on federal policy making. Continue reading Special update on E-Rate and broadband: FCC considers cap on Universal Service Fund
Governor Evers’ recent comments to the media indicating that he plans to reach out to Republican legislative leaders before the Assembly and Senate meet to take up the state budget bill got us thinking.
We’d like to take this opportunity to suggest some things we would like to see the governor and legislative leaders discuss seriously in any negotiations they might undertake. These are modest asks. The spending increase provided by the JFC budget for K-12 education in 2019-21 is over $130 million smaller than the increase provided by the 2017-19 state budget. We respectfully suggest policy makers revisit a couple of issues that if adopted could make this a better budget for schools. Continue reading Some suggestions for the governor and legislative leaders to improve the K-12 budget
Among other state budget actions, the Joint Finance Committee voted along party-lines last week to transfer $22 million in federal e-rate funds (which are meant to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries–the “e” in e-rate stands for “education”) in each year of the budget to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The amount transferred is $19.8 million more than what the Governor’s budget had proposed.
While this may be viewed by some as good news for rural areas that currently lack adequate broadband (high-speed internet) connections, it could spell concerns for schools and libraries in the future. Continue reading Recent state and federal moves on e-rate funds raise caution flags
As mentioned in our previous post, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted on several educational technology budget provisions today.
The JFC approved the Governor’s twin recommendations to extend the sunset of the IT infrastructure grant program to June 30, 2021 and to reduce the amount awarded under the IT infrastructure grant program from $7.5 million per year to $3 million per year.
The JFC also approved the Governor’s recommendation to eliminate the technology training grant program, which had been funded at $1.5 million per year.
As a result of today’s votes, funding for these two TEACH grant programs will decrease from $9 million per year to $3 million per year, in line with the governor’s recommendations.
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will be voting tomorrow (Tuesday, May 14) on a number of items in Governor Evers’ proposal related to educational technology and the TEACH program. Among them are proposals that would:
1) Eliminate TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants.
2) Transfer $24 million in federal e-rate funding meant for schools and libraries to the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program.
3) Continue TEACH Infrastructure Grants until 2021 but reduce funding for thee grants from $7.5 million to $3 million per year. Continue reading JFC continues voting on budget; next up is educational technology
Partial Government Shutdown Continues as New Congress Begins
The 116th Congress convened last week and the House immediately turned attention to approving an appropriations bill designed to end the partial government shutdown, triggered by the White House’s budget request for $5 billion to expand the southern border wall. The House measure, approved Thursday evening (Jan. 3), did not include funding for wall. The House vote shifts the budget debate back to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that he will not bring any Fiscal Year 2019 legislation to the Senate floor that does not have the President’s support. Continue reading How will partial federal government shutdown affect K-12 schools, students?