Ohio’s plan to expand broadband services in Ohio will set aside $50 million of state funding through the federal CARES Act to provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students for purchases, including $191,466 for three Ottawa County school districts.
The schools receiving the financial boost for computer connectivity included an award of $151,466 for Benton-Carroll-Salem School District and $20,000 each for the Danbury School District and the Port Clinton City School District.
Applicants identified the eligible groups they felt would benefit most from the purchase of the technology. Those groups include: Economically disadvantaged students, as defined for EMIS reporting, including students on free lunch; Vulnerable children and youth; Students who might have chronic conditions; and students who do not have other access to the internet.
Eligible expenses for the grants include devices and services that provide computer connectivity, such as: Home internet paid for by the district for students; Hotspots/Mifis with a service plan; Mobile hotspots (including on buses); Public Wifi infrastructure; and other technology that provides a connection for the student.
Purchases are to be made now through Dec. 30.
The Ohio Department of Education, in collaboration with BroadbandOhio, provided a large number of Ohio schools and Education Service Centers with the opportunity to apply for these funds through a grant application process that ended Aug. 21. Grants were reviewed and awardees were notified on Sept. 2.
To complete the award acceptance process, awardees must submit a PDF version of their original application, an updated plan if applicable, signed assurances, a budget page, and available supporting documentation to the Department through the CCIP.
Ineligible expenses are: Laptops and Chromebooks that can only access the internet through Wifi or a wired connection; Hardware that does not contribute towards an internet connection; Devices that do not primarily allow a child to have access to the internet; and cellphones, unless repurposed to only function as a hotspot.
The BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant is linked to RemotEDx, a new $15 million suite of remote education supports for schools funded by the Ohio Department of Education CARES Act state activity funds. A component of RemotEDx includes the deployment of Connectivity Champions, which singularly focuses on helping schools remove barriers to internet connectivity and coordinate connections to state-level resources. Connectivity Champions will be deployed through Information Technology Centers, in partnership with the Management Council and the Ohio Department of Education.