Governor Steve Bullock and Superintendent Elsie Arntzen celebrated the progress Montana has made connecting K-12 students to high-speed broadband, giving schools the ability to develop 21st century classrooms and provide students with more digital learning tools. According to EducationSuperHighway’s Annual State of the States Report, 98% of Montana public school districts are connected to at least 100 Kbps per student, a benchmark set by the FCC. This is up from 78% in 2015. Meanwhile, the average cost to school districts has been cut in half from $10 per Mbps to under $5 per Mbps.
“I am pleased to see that 98% of Montana schools are connected to the high-speed internet that students need to compete in our increasingly connected, global society,” Governor Bullock said. “This increase of 20% over the past four years is the result of a lot of hard work and partnership between my office, the Office of Public Instruction, Department of Commerce, School Administrators of Montana and the Montana Rural Education Association, as well as the school districts and service providers. We will continue to work toward greater connectivity at faster speeds, because as they prepare for jobs in a digital, technology-driven market, every student deserves the opportunity to learn in a 21st Century classroom.”
“Montana students need high-speed Internet in order to receive a modern education and be successful in our economy,” said Superintendent Arntzen. “I am thankful that through the partnerships in our state we have been able to get more classrooms than ever connected. I look forward to continuing our efforts to ensure that all Montana students can succeed.”
"Working closely with Governor Bullock and Superintendent Elsie Arntzen, we have made extraordinary progress toward closing the digital divide in Montana." said Evan Marwell, Founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway. "The reality is that 100 Kbps of Internet access is no longer sufficient for today's classrooms. I am pleased that the governor has demonstrated continued commitment to providing the connectivity that lets educators leverage technology in every classroom, every day."
Since Fall of 2017, school districts have been eligible to apply for funding made possible through House Bill 390, creating a state match to leverage broadband funds available through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) E-rate program. This fund enables schools to upgrade their broadband infrastructure to facilitate digital learning in the classroom. HB 390 provides Montana’s public K-12 schools with $2 million in funding over the biennium to upgrade to fiber connections. When leveraged with FCC E-rate program funds and local funding, HB 390 could trigger up to $20 million in much-needed broadband investment for schools.
The State of the States report is available at: http://stateofthestates.educationsuperhighway.org/?postalCd=MT#state
For more information, and to apply for the matching funds, visit comdev.com/programs/broadband.