Vermont takes steps to improve statewide connectivity

The Vermont Department of Education has selected Education Networks of America (ENA) to provide managed Internet access and wide area network (WAN) services, including options to take advantage of new cost-effective IP voice and video teleconferencing services, on an opt-in basis to all public and private K-12 schools in the state.

On behalf of the state’s K-12 schools, the department issued a request for proposal (RFP) for managed connectivity and communication services in an effort to increase affordable bandwidth availability across the state through group purchase pricing, as well as to maximize E-Rate program funding for these services. The E-Rate program provides subsidized discounts to school and libraries for the purchase of telecommunication and networking services.

This action was driven by Vermont’s Transformation of Education initiative and follows an analysis in 2008 that determined Vermont’s schools were not getting the full benefit of E-Rate funding. Subsequently, the department began a process to solicit an entity to create an E-Rate eligible statewide managed network accessible to all Vermont schools. This endeavor begins a process that could lead to statewide organization of a number of services related to improved connectivity and communication such as video teleconferencing and Voice over IP (VoIP) and better E-Rate reimbursement rates for schools across Vermont.

“Technology plays a vital role in implementing two of the key tenets of the Transformation of Education initiative – student-centered education and the advent of flexible learning environments,” said Peter Drescher, educational technology coordinator for the department.“Without robust broadband in place for schools to access the myriad of resources available via the Internet, we cannot expect to move our students into an environment that addresses those tenets or helps them build the skills necessary to live and work in a 21st century world.” In partnership with ENA, this action will deliver enhanced and affordable robust connectivity and communication services to Vermont schools.

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