Upgrading Virginia’s K-12 Broadband
In June 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education, and EducationSuperHighway. Recognizing that broadband access in Virginia schools is critical to creating a stronger workforce and a more competitive economy, the partnership aims to connect all K-12 students across the state to high-speed broadband. Working with state agencies, service providers, and partners across the state, EducationSuperHighway will help ensure that all schools meet the president’s ConnectED goal of 1 Mbps/student by 2018.
Virginia was one of only two states selected by EducationSuperHighway to participate in a state broadband partnership in 2014 and has the opportunity to emerge as a leader and role model for K-12 connectivity nationwide.
Significant Opportunity to Improve Connectivity for Virginia Students
In Phase 1 of the Virginia K-12 Broadband Connectivity Project, 97% of divisions participated in data collection, allowing EducationSuperHighway to determine:
- Only 33% of divisions and 23% of students meet 2014 connectivity goals for Internet access
- Virginia divisions pay 26% more for connectivity than the national sample
Our initial analysis highlights the opportunity to help divisions procure the bandwidth they need today, and to position them to meet rapidly increasing bandwidth for digital learning. The next phases of work of the Virginia K-12 Broadband Connectivity Project will focus on learning more about the challenges facing divisions and exploring innovative opportunities to reduce costs and upgrade connectivity for every school.
We are now in Phase 2 of our partnership, engaged in a listening campaign to understand needs and root causes of connectivity challenges across the state. We will be in Virginia visiting divisions during the month of February.
If you are a technology director or superintendent, we want to meet with you. Take a look at the technology director and school administration section to learn more and schedule a meeting.
If you are a service provider, we look forward to connecting with you. Please check the provider section for the latest updates.
If you are another stakeholder or member of the public looking for more information, please feel free to “Leave us a note” or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention the Virginia state broadband project.
District Administrators and Technology Directors
This spring we are engaged in a listening campaign to understand divisions’ connectivity challenges so we can collaboratively design solutions for the entire state. We will visit divisions across the Commonwealth during the month of February to meet with technology directors and district leadership. From these visits, we hope to better understand the specific challenges you face and explore potential solutions together.
Interested in meeting with us? Our team would like to schedule one hour with division technology directors and superintendents. We especially hope to meet with school divisions that are not currently connected to fiber. To schedule a meeting, please email Megan Hankins, Outreach Coordinator.
In the next phase of our work in Virginia, we will meet with divisions to listen and learn more about their network needs. Information gathered from these visits will help focus our search for potential solutions.
Service providers are essential partners in ensuring that all K-12 students receive enough Internet access to engage in digital learning. We anticipate starting the search for network solutions in Virginia later this spring and we hope to meet with service provider representatives at this time. In the meantime, check this page for provider-specific updates along the way. If you have any questions or comments, please email Megan Hankins, Outreach Coordinator.
Does EducationSuperHighway charge a fee for its services?
No, EducationSuperHighway is a non-profit organization working to enable high-speed Internet in every classroom in America. We provide free tools, resources, and support to K-12 schools nationwide.
Who are your funders?
EducationSuperHighway is able to continue to expand our impact and provide services to schools across the country thanks to generosity from both public and private funders. We receive funding from organizations ranging from the Gates Foundation to Startup: Education. To see a complete list of our supporters, click here.
Will information that I provide EducationSuperHighway be shared with any third parties?
No, we will never divulge any information given to us in confidence.
Why Virginia? Why now?
Virginia has long been a technology-forward state. With new E-rate regulations in place and ambitious goals for connectivity in 2018, we believe that Virginia is now poised to expand its digital learning initiatives through statewide access to fiber that provides high-speed Internet to all students.
How involved will I be in this project?
You can be as involved as you want! Phase 2 is focused on learning more about your division and its current network. The more we know, the more we can do. Your perspective is critical to our work. If you’re interested in speaking with us about your network challenges, please leave us a note.
What does a site visit look like?
The entire visit takes approximately two hours. The first hour and a half is spent meeting with the technology director and members of the technical team. We also like to do a walk-through of the building(s) to get a clear sense of the overall network structure. The last half-hour is spent meeting with the superintendent to understand his/her vision for technology in your division.
Who would I meet with during a school visit?
You would meet with Tony Swei, our director of state programs, and Andrew Kenny, state associate. They may also be joined by other members of the EducationSuperHighway team, as well as a representative from the Virginia Department of Education.
What types of solutions will you consider or propose?
We do not know about potential solutions until we complete phase 2 of our work. We are very interested, however, in helping all divisions get fiber. Once we have met with divisions and gained a better sense of their needs, we can start brainstorming specific solutions. In other states, we’ve seen solutions such as aggregating network and ISP purchases, and creating state networks.
Will you be providing funding for upgrades?
No, but we will explore options to secure funding for upgrade projects.
How involved will I be in this project?
You can be as involved as you want! As we enter into Phase 3 of our work this spring, we will explore network solutions for Virginia school divisions. We welcome your ideas on how to best meet the needs of all K-12 schools. No solution is possible without your involvement—we look forward to meeting with you and learning about solutions that will best serve all of Virginia’s students.
What types of solutions are you considering?
We won’t know about potential solutions until we complete phase 2 of our work. We are definitely interested in connecting all divisions to fiber. Once we’ve met with divisions and gained a better sense of their needs, we can start brainstorming specific solutions. In other states, we’ve seen solutions such as aggregating network and ISP purchases, and creating state networks.
How do you work with providers in your engagements?
As we explore network solutions later this spring, we will work to connect schools to providers that can best suit their needs. We will also meet with providers to gain their insight into best practices and trouble-shooting around specific division needs. Their perspective will be reflected in our search for solutions.