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NSBA seeking comments on importance of federal E-Rate; FCC has extended deadline to Nov. 8

From the NSBA Office of Federal Advocacy and Public Policy

School board members have a unique opportunity to improve access to 21st-century learning through modernization of the E-Rate program. Due to the federal government shutdown, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extended the comment deadline from Oct. 16 to Nov. 8.

This is our moment to shape our nation's access to 21st-century learning. If your district has an

education technology coordinator, he or she could be a valuable resource for compiling recommendations. NSBA is recommending the following:

- Increasing E-Rate resources to meet demand as a first vital step to improve access to broadband and Internet connectivity generally. Current demand ($4.9 billion) is more than double the resources available. Other than inflationary adjustments authorized in 2010, there has been no increase in the $2.25 billion cap on E-Rate resources since the program's inception.

- Streamlining administration of the E-Rate program, with multiyear applications, electronic filing, and other improvements to increase the cost effectiveness of the program.

- Hold harmless current E-Rate recipients so that schools and libraries are not harmed by changes to the funding mechanism. This could be facilitated by doubling the E-Rate fund to meet current demand.

- Maximize local flexibility to use E-Rate resources to meet technology goals.

Think big - What could your school district do with additional E-Rate funds? Transition to high speed Internet and/or broadband? Expand connectivity to additional schools and classrooms? Are there barriers to your school district's participation in E-Rate, such as complexity of the application process? What could it mean to your students and your district if the promise of E-Rate was realized through the current modernization process? Tell your story. This is our moment.

Steps to file E-Rate comments with the Federal Communications Commission

1) Go to FCC Comment Webpage: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/

2) Select Submit a Filing.

3) Insert the proceeding number: 13-184.

4) Under Contact Info, fill out relevant information (name of filer, etc). While you have to fill out only sections with an asterisk, you may want to include an email address for receipt purposes.

5) Under Details, select COMMENT from the drop-down menu for Type of Filing.

6) Under Address, fill out asterisked information.

7) Under Documents, upload your comment from your computer.

8) Also Under Documents, insert short Custom Description: sample: ___ District/School Comment on E-Rate NPRM.

9) Hit Continue to formally file.

10) Send a copy of your Comment to NSBA, c/o Kathleen Branch, Director of Advocacy Services, kbranch@nsba.org.