Gov. Eric Greitens announced am initiative to provide quality internet access to every public school in the state in a press release on April 3. The investment will provide quality broadband internet via fiber optic connections.
Greitens secured $45 million to build the necessary infrastructure, $6 million of which is appropriated from this year’s budget and $39 million from the federal E-rate Program. The E-rate Program offers discounts for Wi-Fi, high-speed broadband and telecommunications services to eligible schools across the country.
Daniel Liebhart, the administrator at Holliday C-2 School District in northeast Missouri, said faster internet can provide new learning opportunities to students.
“I think if we were able to upgrade our internet services to the broadband, there are other options out there that we don’t take advantage of currently, such as virtual field trips and extended learning services,” Liebhart said.
There are over 100 school districts that don’t have quality internet access, according to the governor’s press release. Education Superhighway, an internet access nonprofit, defines quality access as sufficient Wi-Fi in every classroom, a fiber connection and a minimum connectivity of 100 kbps per student of bandwidth.
Liebhart said the community as a whole faces many problems with internet access, which can impact student learning outside the classroom.
“In our students’ homes, they might have the satellite or a dial-up type internet service, and they’re not able to get affordable internet at this point,” Liebhart said. “I’m hoping if there’s high-speed internet brought into the schools, that it will also be accessible to the communities, which would allow the students to work at home with like notebooks or Chromebooks and be able to connect and do some learning outside the school.”