Last week in Pendleton, Oregon, Governor Kate Brown, signed the Connecting Oregon Schools Fund (HB 4023) to ensure that all K-12 public schools in the state can access high-speed, affordable Internet. Building on the state’s Future Ready plans, this fund helps expand efforts to bring fiber-optic connections to students in rural and remote areas.
“The internet democratizes knowledge, and access to it needs to be as reliable for students in Elgin as it is in Eugene,” said Governor Brown to the crowd of educators, state representatives, and service providers convened at the event. “With the passage of this bill, we will open up digital learning opportunities in classrooms across Oregon.”
In its first year, the Connecting Oregon Schools Fund has already supported educational equity for hundreds of students across the state. Nine districts, including Elgin, Huntington, and Imbler schools in InterMountain and Malheur education service districts, will upgrade their infrastructure using approximately $400,000 in state funds. In addition, the schools plan to have some costs covered by the Federal Communications Commission School and Libraries (E-rate) program. In total, the upgrade projects this year will catalyze up to $6 million in broadband investment in rural Oregon – a 15:1 return on investment of state funds.
Building on the great momentum of this work, EducationSuperHighway looks forward to this partnership with Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Education. In the coming E-rate cycle, we will support the approximately 40 school districts in Oregon that lack scalable broadband, and will advise schools on using their E-rate Category 2 budget to get robust Wi-Fi connectivity in their classrooms.
“[The Connecting Oregon Schools fund] is a big step forward in making sure that our students have the tools they need to forge a path to graduation, and in closing the skills gap between the workforce we have and the workforce Oregon’s growing businesses need.” – Governor Kate Brown
To learn more, view the full Connecting Oregon Schools Fund House Bill.