by Catherine Banker and Ryan Stachowiak, VectorUSA

E-Rate Modernization is now in its third year and going strong. Schools and libraries are adjusting to the new rules and by all accounts, finally feel that there is equity in the distribution of funds.

The Modernization Order became effective in 2015. This was a banner year for schools and libraries that previously had received little or no funds for their Broadband services. The word has been spread and now schools and libraries are waiting for funding for 2016 and applying for 2017.

The program allocates funding for schools and libraries based on two different formulas:

Libraries in certain urban areas receive $5.00 per square foot, while libraries elsewhere receive at least $2.30.

For school districts including Preschool, Adult Education and Juvenile Justice in California, the funds provides $150 per student for 5 years. The minimum amount funded is $9,200 for small schools with less than 62 students. Rural school districts with more than half of their schools in rural areas receive an additional discount. These discounts are based on the overall District Free and Reduced Lunch counts and vary from 90% to 20% for Broadband/Internet Services and 85% to 20% for Internal Connections.

Libraries in certain urban areas receive $5.00 per square foot, while libraries elsewhere receive at least $2.30. Both have 5 years to utilize their allocate funds. Libraries in small buildings receive a minimum of $9200 as a floor of funding similar to small schools. Libraries utilize their local schools district-wide discount to calculate their discount.

Prior to the Modernization Order, the emphasis was on voice and related services. With the Modernization Order voice services are being eliminated slowly – over 5 years – and Broadband and WiFi are being funded. Eligible Services have been expanded for Broadband and now include Managed Internal Broadband Services or MIBS in addition to the previous Internal Connections category and Basic Maintenance.

This means that a school district or school site can opt to have their entire network installed, managed and supported through Internal Connections, Basic Maintenance and MIBS.   This allows IT personnel to focus on the classroom – to support students and teachers in their learning rather than ensuring their network is up and running.

VectorUSA offers all three of these avenues – Internal Connections, Managed Internal Broadband Services and Basic Maintenance through E-Rate to ensure your network is always available for your teachers and students.