Connections for Classrooms will help improve student achievement through digital learning
Gov. Nathan Deal today announced 136 local education authorities (LEAs) will be awarded more than $25.3 million from the second round of the Connections for Classrooms grant program, a collaborative funding effort between the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), the Georgia Department of Education and the One Georgia Authority to help ensure classrooms across the state have the high-speed broadband access required for digital and blended learning. These funds will enable the LEAs, which include 134 districts and two state charter schools, to receive as much as $90.9 million in federal E-Rate funds, making the total investment of $116.2 million in school and classroom network infrastructure.
“In order to succeed in the 21st century job market, our students must master 21st century skills,” said Deal. “In 2012, I charged my Digital Learning Task Force with developing a strategy to improve student achievement through digital learning implementation across the state. With these funds in place, our schools are closer than ever to attaining the necessary technology infrastructure and to better preparing Georgia’s students for life outside the classroom.”
Connections for Classrooms is part of a broader statewide effort to expand classroom high-speed broadband access in response to Deal’s Digital Learning Task Force recommendations as well as the state’s efforts to enable personalized learning for Georgia students. In the first round of grants, LEAs were required to detail their technology expansion plans and explain how grant awards would enable them to implement digital and blended learning and improve student achievement. GOSA received more than $198 million in requests from 146 LEAs. In October 2014, Deal announced the first round of awards, totaling $37 million, to 104 LEAs.
Round 2 capitalizes on the recent $2 billion expansion of the federal E-Rate program’s Category 2, which provides grants to LEAs for school-level network infrastructure. LEAs that applied in the 2014 Connections for Classrooms grant program, but still have remaining school- and classroom-level network infrastructure needs after the first round, must use grant funds for the required E-Rate local matching funds. LEAs must apply for and receive federal E-Rate Category 2 funds to receive reimbursement for local matching funds from Connections for Classrooms.
GOSA will open applications for a third round in July 2015, which will enable LEAs to apply that either did not apply for a 2014 grant or that have remaining E-Rate eligible needs after Round 2.