Superintendent’s Memo #116-14

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

April 25, 2014

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  EducationSuperHighway State Broadband Pricing Project

The Virginia Department of Education has been selected by the nonprofit organization EducationSuperHighway as one of two states invited to participate in a state broadband pricing project. EducationSuperHighway’s mission is to ensure that every K-12 school in America has reliable, high-capacity Internet access to be able to take advantage of the promise of digital learning. The team is comprised of former business executives, tech engineers, educators, and philanthropists who want to use their skills, energy, and resources to help improve America’s public schools.

Preliminary research conducted by EducationSuperHighway shows that connectivity costs for school divisions in Virginia are greater than the national average making it more difficult for all Virginia schools to become fully prepared for digital learning. The purpose of this project is to ensure that every school in Virginia has digital learning-ready bandwidth to the classroom. The Department of Education and the Office of the Secretary of Technology will work with EducationSuperHighway to collect data on Internet access and WAN pricing from every school division in Virginia. School divisions will be asked to enter their 2014-15 E-Rate Item 21 data into EducationSuperHighway's online portal, which will enable the Department of Education and participating school divisions to access its reporting and price comparison capabilities in the coming months.

This information will assist the Department and our collaborators in supporting divisions in their efforts to decrease technology costs and increase capabilities. The data will be used to identify options for lowering costs and increasing bandwidth for Virginia school divisions, including bringing in new service options, incenting competition and transparency, and effecting policy change. This effort will outline specific actions that can be taken to improve connectivity in divisions and ensure that every student is connected and every school is digital learning ready. Specific instructions for participation will be forthcoming.

If you have questions, please contact Gail Warren, project coordinator, by telephone at (757) 470-3017 or via e-mail at gail.warren@doe.virginia.gov.

PIW/TM/gw