The state of Kansas plans to expand high-speed internet and wireless access to all public schools across the state in a program that could cost up to $100 million. Kansas has partnered with the non-profit organization EducationSuperHighway and will use state and federal funds to help pay for the technology upgrades. Governor Sam Brownback announced the project Tuesday.
“Our goal is simple: bring digital learning capabilities to every Kansas classroom. Technically speaking, that means we need fiber optic connections to every school. We need wifi access in every school. We need connectivity that districts can afford,” says Brownback.
Education Commissioner Randy Watson says this will help level the playing field when it comes to accessing digital learning. He says that’s been a struggle in some rural areas.
“While we’re here to talk about bandwidth, connectivity, speed and access, it really is about trying to help every child be successful, no matter what their zip code is in Kansas,” says Watson.
Most of the school districts that need updates are in rural parts of the state.
Evan Marwell is founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway, which will assist the state and school districts with the upgrades.
"I founded EducationSuperHighway because I am a true believer in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning in America's schools," says Marwell.
Marwell says digital tools helps reduce disparities and "ensure that every student in America and every student in Kansas has equal access to educational opportunity."
Kansas will provide up to $10 million for the program from the Universal Service Fund. The rest of the funding will come from the federal government. The group EducationSuperHighway will not be paid by either the state or federal government because the organization is funded through private donations.
The hardware upgrades are planned to start next year.