North Carolina is the first state to connect all K-12 classrooms to high-speed broadband. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will host a celebration of this achievement Tuesday, May 22, at Graham High School.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson; Alamance-Burlington Superintendent William Harrison; Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Alamance; and Rep. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance, will also attend.
“Connecting all of our public school classrooms to high-speed broadband will bridge the education divide allowing opportunity for an excellent education to all public-school students,” Forest said.
Through the School Connectivity Initiative, every public school in the state has high-speed broadband access. SCI was created in 2007 to support the enhancement of technology infrastructure in public schools. Funds were appropriated for broadband access, equipment, and support services.
Challenges still remain. While students have access to the internet at school, students assigned homework requiring internet access can get left behind. On May 14, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded a $250,000 two-year grant to the State Library of North Carolina and the Broadband Infrastructure Office of the North Carolina Department of Information Technology.
The grant will fund a project to equip up to four local North Carolina library systems with WIFI hotspots that students can borrow to provide internet access at home.
“We learned from a recent NC DIT study that around 10 percent of North Carolina households with school-age children don’t have home internet access,” State Librarian Cal Shepard said in a news release. “This project uses the great resources we already have in local libraries and public schools to begin to break down those barriers and close the gap for these students.”
The first county hasn’t been chosen, but it will be a Tier 1 county. Up to 300 families will participate in the two-year project, and they will be able to check out WIFI hotspots for the entire school semester.