California Allocates $26.7M to Support Network Connectivity Infrastructure Grants / Role of County Offices and Request for Information

California Allocates $26.7M to Support Network Connectivity Infrastructure Grants / Role of County Offices and Request for Information
In May, recognizing the need for adequate infrastructure to support computer-based assessments, the Legislature allocated $26,689,000 of one-time Proposition 98 General Fund dollars to support broadband infrastructure grants.

In addition to the broadband infrastructure grants, the language requires the completion of a statewide report of network connectivity infrastructure by the California K-12 High-Speed Network (K12HSN) in consultation with the Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE).

In the next few months, K12HSN will begin distributing broadband infrastructure grants to help public school districts and direct-funded charter schools with the most severe infrastructure deficits.

These broadband infrastructure grants will fund projects critical for the implementation of the 2014-15 computer-based assessments. First priority for critical need grants will go to local educational agencies that will be unable to administer computer-based assessments at their school site in 2014-15.

Public school districts, county offices of education and direct funded charter schools are eligible to apply for these network connectivity infrastructure grants. As you might imagine, some of the sites that have the critical need these funds are intended to address are not well-staffed. For that reason, we are asking County Offices of Education to engage in support for these sites. The K12HSN program understands that your staffs are also carrying heavy loads and there will be compensation for the energies we are asking you to undertake.

We envision the role of County Offices of Education to be two-fold:

1.    Help with the Broadband Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program

a.    Assist K12HSN in identifying hardship sites early on (early August)

b.    Disseminate information about the broadband infrastructure grant opportunity with their districts and encourage eligible sites to apply.

c.    Provide technical assistance to school districts intending to apply for the grant to include assistance with design, determining cost estimates for infrastructure projects and mapping out project plans.

2.    Help with the Broadband Needs Assessment needed to complete the a Statewide report due on March 1, 2015

a.    Assist K12HSN in identifying sample school sites to collect data from.

b.    Coordinate data collection for the needs assessment for the sample within their respective County.

c.     Enter the collected information using the online survey tool for each of the sites.

K12HSN is in the process of developing an agreement that fairly compensates County Offices for the efforts needed in any of the above functions.

Timelines

Broadband Infrastructure Grant Timeline:

August 18, 2014 - Request For Application (RFA) Release Date

August 29, 2014 Due Date for (non-mandatory, but requested) Letter of Intent

September 26, 2014 - Deadline to submit Grant Applications

November 3, 2014 - Grant Awards Announcement

November 4, 2014 - Implementation period begins

Statewide Network Connectivity Report Timeline:

August - December 2014 - Statewide data collection effort

March 1, 2015 - Statewide Report due to the Legislature

The RFA will be available on August 18, 2014 at:

www.k12hsn.org/big  

Districts may submit one application per school site. 

Please note that as a condition of receiving grant funding, all local educational agencies commit to supporting the ongoing costs associated with improved Internet infrastructure. Applicants will also be expected to leverage other funding sources such as E-rate.

We will provide additional information about the RFA and grant application soon. The K12HSN staff will conduct an application webinar to provide an overview of the grant and application process and offer potential applicants an opportunity to ask clarifying questions in August.

In the meantime, it would be very helpful for us to receive a list of the school sites in your county that:

·         Couldn't administer the 2013-14 field test for connectivity reasons

·         Administered the field test but had to transport students to a different testing location

·         Administered the field test but had to shut down other online activities/operations

We understand you may not be aware of all the hardship cases in your County but we would appreciate if you could send us the list of those school sites that you are aware experienced the circumstances listed above. The list should include the school name, CDS Code, a technical/administrative contact, phone number and physical address.

The time provided to accomplish this work is very short, we would appreciate if we can get a response back from you by, Friday, August 8, 2014.

Having this information will help us ensure all of the critical need school sites are applying for the Broadband Infrastructure Grant.

We are looking forward to awarding network connectivity infrastructure grants to the districts and charter schools with the greatest infrastructure needs.

Please let us hear from you either by phone, (760) 312-6512, or by email, tsanders@icoe.org. If, based on your assessment of your capacity to assist, you believe you cannot fill the role we have described for your county, it would be most helpful for you to tell us. We anticipate in some counties we will need to find a different solution and hearing your input quickly will be very helpful.

Teri Sanders

Teri D. Sanders

Senior Director, Education Technology

Imperial County Office of Education / K-12 High Speed Network

1398 Sperber Road

El Centro, CA  92243

(760) 312-6512

tsanders@icoe.org