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Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina aid

Those of us who spend too much time on all things E-Rate have been abuzz about Hurricane Katrina and how it would affect the E-Rate program. Well, we finally have an FCC press release on the subject. Here's my summary of the action the FCC intends to take:
1) a new application window for affected schools
2) "highest level of priority" and "steepest level of discounts" for affected schools for this year and next
3) amendments to applications for schools taking in students from affected areas

I'm not sure what #2 means. Are they going to put all the schools in the area at a 90% discount?

What affect is a new application window going to have on existing applications? My hope is that PIA is going to start shoving applications through even faster to brace for the new applications and amendments. I'm worried about the SLD's database system for tracking funding. It already can't handle a simple mid-year SPIN change; what's it going to do with an out-of-cycle application window and amended applications?

The FCC says it will cost$132 million. I wonder how the FCC arrived at that figure. If it's really that low, then it shouldn't have too drastic an impact on the fund. And that's OK with me; paying for disaster relief through a surcharge on my phone bill seems a bit odd. But if they're going to give all these schools 90%, I have my doubts.

If all those schools are going to get a 90% discount on top of federal disaster aid, they're going to build nice networks. I'm seeing costs around $100,000 just to swap out the routers and switches in a small (300-500 students) school. Phone system, wiring, maybe some video, plus maintenance? I'm thinking $200,000 per school. $132 million covers 660 schools at that rate. The NCES says there are 4,165 schools in LA, MS and AL. New Orleans has 160. And that's only public schools.

Looking at it another way, New Orleans school district's initial request for the 05-06 year was $35 million. So before Katrina hit, they were going to use $35 million. But the whole area is going to use only $132 million to completely rebuild?

I hope the FCC is right.

1 comment:

  1. I saw some hard numbers schools and libaries damaged by Katrina in a proposal submitted to the FCC by the State E-Rate Coordinators from LA, MS and AL.

    122 schools & libraries destroyed
    608 schools & libraries damaged
    225 schools & libraries inaccessible, so not yet assessed

    Figure that 200 of the unassessed will be at least damaged, and we're looking at 930 locations to be fixed. If you divide the $132 million that the FCC expects by 930, you come up with less than $150,000 per building.