Bill increases broadband access for schools

A bill heard this week in the Senate Education Finance Committee would provide additional funding for schools to gain better telecommunication access for their students and staff – substantially more, in fact. The state currently provides $7.5 million every two years to help school districts with telecommunications access aid. This bill would provide an additional $5.7 million per year ($11.4 million total in the next biennium).

The DFL has long supported increases in internet access and broadband for Minnesota schools, often authoring similar bills in the past that went unfunded due to budget constraints. In 2016, a one-time appropriation of $500,000 in broadband innovation grants was provided, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Many school districts in Greater Minnesota have trouble accessing high-speed internet service, and those in the metro area often need funding to meet rapidly changing technology access needs. Both would benefit from additional funding. (SF 926)