In September, the technology department applied and became eligible for the Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant (BIIG 2.0) offered by the K-12 High Speed Network (K-12HSN) and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). This $50 million funding allocated in the state budget helps schools with inadequate bandwidth to upgrade their current connection to the Internet to better assist with the CAASPP testing.
There are three categories of eligibility:
- Priority 1 - schools with a current connection below 20 Kbps per student
- Priority 2 - schools with less than 100 Kbps per student
- Priority 2B - remaining schools that are underconnected, based upon available funds and ranked by lowest connection capacity
For Washington Unified, the connection from Yolo County Office of Education to the District Office is eligible for Priority 1. Our current Internet pipeline to YCOE is 100 MB and the technology department is working on upgrading this connection to 1 GB. We are also planning on upgrading the connections to school sites from 50 MB to 1 GB. If we are selected for BIIG 2.0, the cost of the Priority 1 connection as well as a year of service beginning in July 2016 will be covered by this grant.
After Priority 1 schools across the state are funded and if funding is still available, the eligible Priority 2 schools will be funded for connection upgrades. In Washington Unified, those sites are Southport, Bridgeway Island, Elkhorn Village, Westmore Oaks, River City High School, Riverbank, and Stonegate. Priority 2B eligible sites are Evergreen, Yolo, Westfield Village, Alyce Norman, and Bryte.
What happens if we are not funded through BIIG 2.0?
If we are not a final candidate to receive BIIG 2.0 funding, we will still move forward with the plan to upgrade our Internet connection to YCOE and throughout the district. We've started the initial planning to apply for E-Rate, a federally funded program that provides discounts on connections (Phone, Voice, Data) and reimbursements on infrastructure upgrades (routers, switches, fiber). Don't miss next week's Technology Update about E-Rate and how you can support our application.
What does this mean to you and your classroom?
In time, you will see an increase in how fast the Internet works in your classroom for you and your students. Given the BIIG 2.0 timeline, it is likely that this increase will not occur until the 2016-2017 school year. As we add more devices to classrooms, you could potentially see a slowing of the Internet since the "pipeline" is only so large and as we add more devices, the traffic becomes slower. We are working on alternative solutions to avoid this slow down.