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Boise School District Running Into Broadband Program Problems

February 19, 2014

Boise School District Running Into Broadband Program Problems

By Oliver VanDervoort
Contributing Writer

While there are more and more cities and communities who are embracing Internet speeds as fast as they can get them, there are drawbacks to jumping into high speed broadband too quickly. The Meridian School District in Boise, Idaho appeared before the state’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee late last week in an effort to get the state to continue to back the Idaho Education Network’s high-speed broadband Internet program for schools.

The school district is looking for continued funding despite the fact that the program has some serious funding issues. Those issues have led some to believe that the program needs to be done away with entirely. This kind of problem has befallen other smaller communities who desperately wanted to get access to high speed Internet as quickly as possible.

One community in Tennessee has become the cautionary tale of all other smaller communities who may decide to take the high-speed broadband Internet leap before they are ready. That town had reported a budget shortfall of more than $2.1 million by the end of last November.

The problem with the Boise situation has more to do with the way in which the city acquired its high speed Internet access. Reports indicate that when the smoke clears, the state might have to pay back as much as $13.3 million to the federal government following allegations that the contract for the broadband services were not issued legally. Other reports indicate that if the contracts were indeed not done correctly, the state could lose another $14.5 million on top of what they would have to pay back to the federal government.

That makes what the Tennessee town lost during their ill-fated foray into dark fiber look like a simple drop in the bucket. Despite the problems that have befallen the Boise school district since it adopted the broadband program, director of information systems Jerry Reininger said the program is indispensable for students in rural and urban school districts and a solution that allows the program to keep the broadband solution.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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