By Cindy Morley –
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal believes that students need to master 21st century skills to succeed in the 21st century job market. And many students across the state will soon be given the opportunity to master those digital learning skills.
According to the Governor, 53 schools across the state will be awarded more than $6.9 million from the Connections for Classrooms grant program, a collaborative funding effort between the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, the Georgia Department of Education and the OneGeorgia Authority to help ensure classrooms have the high-speed broadband access required for digital and blended learning. The schools chosen include 60 districts, one state school, and one state charter school.
The grants were included in the amended FY 16 budget and will fully fund all schools who applied for for monies from the third round of the grant program once combined with the $8.2 million awarded in January.
“Digital literacy skills are becoming increasingly necessary to remain competitive in a global marketplace,” said Deal. “In 2012, I charged my Digital Learning Task Force with developing a cohesive strategy to improve student achievement through digital learning implementation across the state. With these additional funds in place, our schools are closer than ever to attaining the necessary technology infrastructure to better prepare Georgia’s students for life outside the classroom.”
According to information from the Governor’s office, the combined $15.1 million will allow the enable the schools to receive $36.8 million in federal E-Rate funds, making the total investment of $51.9 million in school network infrastructure. These grants are critical to ensuring districts not only have the capacity for digital learning but also for the efficient online administration of the Georgia Milestones, Deal said.
Connections for Classrooms is part of a broader statewide effort to expand classroom high-speed broadband access in response to Deal’s Digital Learning Task Force recommendations, as well as the state’s efforts to enable personalized learning for Georgia students. Across three grant rounds, the program has provided more than $77 million in grants to 159 LEAs to accomplish this goal and has enabled them to be eligible for up to $130 million in federal E-rate funds for the same purpose.
At least one national report on broadband connectivity in K-12 public schools across the county has recognized Georgia as a leader in digital literacy and classroom connectivity.