Santa
Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office Consortium is Awarded $424,850 to
Improve Internet Services for Santa Cruz County Schools and Libraries

The Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office Consortium is pleased to announce it has received $424,850 through the Schools and Libraries Program (E-Rate) funding.  This funding will expand internet access to schools and libraries within Santa Cruz County, giving students and teachers the infrastructure needed to succeed in today’s changing technology driven world. The fiber optics lines installed in this project will increase broadband services for participating locations which are Nogales Unified School District #1, Santa Cruz Elementary School District #28, both Patagonia School Districts #20 and #6, Sonoita Elementary School District #25, Mexicayotl Academy, Sacred Heart Catholic School, and the libraries in Nogales, Rio Rico, Sonoita, and Tubac.

By forming a consortium, the participating entities were able to produce more buying power in order to lower the monthly internet cost and improve internet speed for everyone in the consortium.  The ERATE process requires going out for bid, as a result, the consortium chose the proposal from Century Link in order to be the internet provider and constructor for the project. 

“This is a great thing, not only for our schools and libraries, but for our entire county.  I want to thank everyone who participated and especially NUSD #1 for coming on board with this project.  With everyone working together and creating a countywide project, we were able to better the educational experience of our children,” said Alfredo Velasquez, Santa Cruz County School Superintendent.

According to the FCC website, High-speed Internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, and civic engagement. But there are too many parts of this country where broadband is unavailable. In urban areas, 97% of Americans have access to high-speed fixed service. In rural areas, that number falls to 65%.

E-rate is a program of the FCC that provides schools and libraries discounts of up to 90% for technology related expenses.  These expenses include Internet Access, Wide Area Networks (WAN), and the equipment that disseminates the internet throughout school and library buildings and districts.  Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and whether the school or library is located in an urban or rural area. E-rate is providing the needed funds to allow rural students and patrons the same opportunity that their urban cousins enjoy.  Without E-rate the technical divide between rural and urban learning opportunities would be vast indeed.