Eureka Springs schools to get cheaper, faster internet
EUREKA SPRINGS -- "This is a great first step," said Superintendent David Kellogg about the approval from the state of Priority 1 of the school district's e-rate application.
The "e-rate," funded from fees collected by companies providing telecommunications services, helps school districts improve internet connectivity. Last year, the state legislature approved a $5 million matching grant program. The funding amount is determined by the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served. Funding can be from 20 to 90 percent.
The district hired the Kellogg (no relation to the superintendent) & Sovereign CPA firm to do the application.
The district expected it would get Priority 1 funding, which was approved, Kellogg told the Eureka Springs School Board at its monthly meeting May 15. The district will pay around $12,000 for $47,000 worth of internet services.
Specifically, Kellogg said Priority 1 will increase the district's 15-megabit internet connection to 100 megabits.
"There are some places in the state where they don't even have the infrastructure for this, but we do," he said.
Priority 2 funding would improve the internal connections to make service even faster and would also fund maintenance of the system.
If the application for Priority 2 is approved, the district could get $132,000 worth of work done and pay only $33,000 for it, if the full 80 percent approval is granted.
It could be less, Kellogg said.
"[Priority 2] is very competitive," he said, "and only a few school districts get this. The application is much more complicated. We don't what percentage they will grant, either. But if we could improve our infrastructure, it would make things even easier and faster."
He said that even if the internal connections work is not approved, there are "stopgap" measures the district can take to make it work.
"Eventually, this work will need to be done," he added. "It will have to be."
He said work on the new internet broadband technology will begin after July 1.
In other business, the board:
* Approved a field trip for three state first-place Skills U.S.A. students to attend the national competition in Kansas City.
* Approved changes to the salary schedule to add a homebound teacher, delete the technology assistant and hourly custodian positions and change the Deaf Interpreter title to Aide/Deaf Interpreter.
* Approved the addition of board member Jason Morris to the Safety Committee.
* Returned from executive to approve accepting the resignations of special education paraprofessional Rose Aparicio and pre-kindergarten paraprofessional Brittany Graham, the hiring of Jason Hill as building trades instructor and Jessica Tvrz as an elementary teacher, and to change the contract of Richard Mann, Jr., from four periods per day to full time English and drama teacher.
* Heard high school principal Kathryn Lavender report that out of 74 Arkansas high schools ranked, Eureka Springs is still in the top 10, according to "U.S. News and World Report," with Eureka Springs ranked #10. The ranking is based on end-of-course tests in Algebra I, geometry and biology and on 11th grade literacy.
* Heard the high school received a $15,000 Arkansas Career Education planning grant to start looking at "wall to wall academies" that help eighth-grade students plan their transition to ninth grade and determine where their interests lie.
* Tabled renewing the contract with PCMI for substitute staff services. Kellogg said a competitor contacted him, wishing to make a proposal, so the board will consider the matter at a future meeting.
* Heard Elementary Principal Clare Lesieur say the district is still awaiting news from the state on the five-year renewal of the 21st Century Program grant, but they are hoping to start the program, which is slated to focus more on academics, in July.