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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Who's missing the gravy train?

Funds for Learning has posted a short report on the 2009 funding year.  So I thought I'd steal a little of their data, and see what the participation rate is among different categories of applicants.

I got my info on the number of libraries from the American Library Association, and on the number of schools and districts from the U.S. Dept. of Education.  Here are the results:

Category Total Applied Participation
School Districts 13,809 12,833 93%
Schools 33,740 7,142 21%
Libraries 9,225 3,672 40%
Consortia n/a 439 n/a

I'm kind of suspicious of the data, because I think the FFL data is pulled from the selection the applicant makes on the Form 471, and so a school with multiple locations might apply as a district.  Elsewhere, the DoE put  the total number of districts in the country at 16,850.  In the other direction, I have seen single-school districts apply as a school.  Also, consortia contain applicants from the other 3 categories, so participation is higher for all categories.  But let's just take the numbers as roughly correct.

93% is much higher than I expected.  I would have guessed 80%.  I mean, anything that's voluntary, it's hard to get more than 80% participation.  And I see a lot of districts not applying, but I guess that's because I'm looking for those districts.  If we use the DoE's other total number of districts (16,850), the participation drops to 76%, which I find more believable.  Still, that's a good participation rate.

The libraries number is also higher than I expected.  Between the need for a tech plan, the thorny first-amendment infringement inherent in CIPA, and the small telecom/Internet spending for most libraries, I had expected to see a number closer to 20%.

The schools participation is kind of embarassing.  Only 1 in 5 apply, which is lower than I had expected.  And since most of them have some kind of filtering in place, it's really just a matter of tossing together a tech plan and filling out the paperwork.  Now with no tech plan required for Priority One, perhaps we'll see a boom in requests from this sector.

In general, I wonder if we'll be able to see a change in participation now that the tech plan requirement has been relaxed.  

If I were more ambitious, I'd look at the percentage of entities in each category get Priority Two funding.  I'll bet school participation would drop into the single digits.


  1. Dan,
    When the NPRM that resulted in the 6th Report and Order came out, we responded with some data demonstrating that Priority Two funding has been allocated to roughly 13% of the applicants over the life of the program. That means that 87% of applicants get zero P2 dollars...
    Now, you can take that and run with it...LOL

  2. Well, the FCC sure fixed that with the Funds for Learning Order in August, where they retroactively gave everyone P2 funding for FY2010.

    Well, everyone who had applied 18 months earlier.

    Which is mostly that same 13%.