Pinal County education agency receives funding for broadband Internet

The Pinal County School Office Education Service Agency has received $31,549,900.38 in Schools and Libraries Program (E-Rate) funding. The funds will support the Pinal County Internet Consortium, which include the Apache Junction Public Library and the Apache Junction Unified School District.

“The Pinal County Internet Consortium will expand Internet access to schools and libraries within Pinal County, giving students and teachers the infrastructure needed to succeed in today’s changing technology driven world,” according to a release.

The fiber optics lines installed in this project will increase broadband services for participating locations to 10Gbps.

The Pinal County School Office Education Service Agency has partnered with Zayo, a fiber network provider with extensive education experience, to complete construction, which will begin immediately, according to the release.

Jill Broussard

“Broadband access is the great equalizer, leveling the playing field so that every willing and able student, no matter their situation in life, has access to the information and tools necessary to achieve success,” Jill Broussard, Pinal County school superintendent, said in the release.

“With broadband access, we can revolutionize access to education, develop economic empowerment and generate the delivery of critical human needs,” Peter Lin, IT manager for Pinal County schools, said in the release.

“An increase in broadband access will open up endless possibilities for distance learning tools in professional development, and global collaboration in classrooms. Real-time access to information is a must in this digital age,” Joel Villegas, Pinal County Education Service Agency director, said in the release.

The schools and libraries universal service support program, also known as the E-Rate program, helps schools and libraries to obtain affordable broadband, according to the release.

Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and whether the school or library is in an urban or rural area. The discounts range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services.

The Apache Junction Independent publishes a daily newsletter and website. A print edition is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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