Students across Missouri are benefiting from new, high-speed internet connections in their classrooms, opening doors to virtual learning, providing for worldwide academic collaboration and enhancing research capabilities. Missouri districts and charter schools are completing projects to enable high-speed internet connectivity, and the first reimbursement has been made through the Missouri Connect & Learn Initiative. Connect & Learn is a cooperative effort of the Office of the Governor, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and national non-profit EducationSuperHighway.
“Missouri is on its way to becoming one of the top states in the country for technology job growth,” said Governor Mike Parson. “Expanding high-speed broadband access is a key commitment to our administration, and this initiative will help prepare our students for the workplace when they have finished their education.”
Missouri Connect & Learn provides state matching funds that augment monies available through the federal E-rate program. The Office of the Governor and DESE established $6 million in state matching funds to assist E-rate applicants with the cost of special construction to bring fiber connections to schools.
“We are pleased to be part of this initiative to improve connectivity for Missouri classrooms,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven. “We want to provide every opportunity for our students to succeed.”
Osage County R-III in Westphalia was the first district to receive a reimbursement, collecting a payment of nearly $109,150 in state funding for a fiber connection to its buildings. The upgrade will enable the district to provide mobile devices for students.
Superintendent Chuck Woody said, “Having fiber in our district will provide us with the means to begin our 1:1 initiative for students. This is an opportunity for our district to provide an education that will allow students to use technology to challenge themselves and be better equipped for college and the workforce in a world that is technologically driven.”
The Connect & Learn Initiative is in its second year. Since it began, 17 Missouri districts have applied for funding.