Gov. Nathan Deal today announced 103 local education authorities will be awarded more than $36.7 million from the Connections for Classrooms, a collaborative funding effort between the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and the One Georgia Authority (OGA) to help ensure classrooms across the state have the high-speed broadband access required for digital and blended learning.
“It’s imperative that Georgia’s students have access to new, state-of-the-art technology in order to learn necessary 21st century skills and succeed in our economy,” said Deal. “In 2012, I created and charged my Digital Learning Task Force with developing a cohesive strategy to improve student achievement through digital learning implementation across the state. A key portion of its recommendations was to build out the technology infrastructure necessary for effective digital learning, and these funds will go a long way toward helping us achieve that goal and bridge the digital divide in our school.”
Connections for Classrooms is part of a broader statewide effort to expand classroom high-speed broadband access in response to Gov. Deal’s Digital Learning Task Force recommendations as well as the state’s efforts to enable personalized learning for Georgia students.
Applicants were required to detail their technology expansion plans and explain how grant awards would enable them to implement digital and blended learning and improve student achievement. This year, 102 districts and one state charter school received grant awards, totaling $39 million. The five top scoring districts — Thomas, Peach, Tattnall, Ben Hill, and Laurens Counties — will receive full funding to have wireless built out to every classroom once grant funds are paired with estimated federal E-Rate funds.
Note: The different tiers are separated by what equipment can be purchased with the grant money. Tier 1 money goes to the school district office, Tier 2 is distributed at the school level and Tier 3 can go to boosting the Internet connections of specific classrooms or instruction areas.
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About the Connections for Classrooms Program
Connections for Classrooms is a grant program joining multiple state agencies around the common goal of ensuring Georgia schools and classrooms have the high-speed broadband access required for digital and blended learning. The program combines money from the following two fund sources:
- $14 million in bond funds from the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE)
- $25 million in funds from the One Georgia Authority at the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) will manage the funds.
The program is part of a broader statewide effort to expand classroom high-speed broadband access in response to Governor Deal’s Digital Learning Task Force recommendations as well as the GaDOE’s efforts to enable personalized learning for Georgia students.
The effort includes expanding the University System of Georgia’s (USG) PeachNet network to connect every Georgia local educational agency (LEA) to its high-speed network. The partnership between USG and GaDOE will ensure that all district central offices have 100 megabits per second per school of bandwidth by July 2015. Connections for Classrooms broadens this expansion to ensure that schools have sufficient network infrastructure to effectively utilize the increased bandwidth at the classroom level.