How to Manage E-rate

By Nicholas Shipley

E-rate, the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, brings affordable telecommunications and Internet access to schools and libraries across the nation. The 14-year-old program has committed more than $28.5 billion to offset the costs of certain telecommunications needs for schools and libraries.

This money has helped to increase broadband connectivity and establish a strong partnership between education and online resources. Schools have seen that more broadband access allows educators to use the Internet for video conferencing, online educational content, and interactive events such as virtual field trips.

Broadband connectivity also is making schools safer. Districts are using broadband connectivity to increase security by implementing districtwide security video feeds. They can restrict building access and partner with emergency agencies in order to increase first response time in the event of an emergency.

However, as with every program of this magnitude, it is important to establish stringent guidelines to ensure that the funds are disbursed and used properly. The E-rate requires multiple levels of oversight to ensure the prevention of waste, fraud, and abuse.

As your district gets ready to meet the E-rate filing deadline this spring, you need to know about changes made in the E-rate requirements since last year.

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