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Monday, September 15, 2014

The latest from $150-in-5 Rule

I recently blogged about some complications of the new $150-in-5-but-you-better-spend-it-in-the-first-2 Rule, but I missed one of the complications.

The E-Rate Modernization Order says: "...schools in districts that seek category two funding during funding years 2015 or 2016 will be eligible to request E-rate discounts on purchases of up to $150 (pre-discount) per student for category two services over a five-year period."

So while the $150/student budget is (unfortunately) school-specific, the budget rule applies to the district.  Example: if you're a district thinking that you'll wait until the $150-in-5 sunsets in 2 years (probably a foolish decision, I know), but you're building a new school next year.  If you get Category 2 funding for that new school, you force all the district's schools into the $150-in-2 straightjacket.

On the other hand, it appears in my original rant, I was wrong: you don't need to spend a little in every school in the district to start the 5-year window earlier.  Apparently, you just need to spend $1 in one school in 2015-2016, and the whole district's $150-in-5 window starts.

It's too bad that the $150-in-5 rule is applied district-wide, because USAC's Two-in-Five Tool would have become a delightful explosion of color if they'd had to keep track of whether each location was under the 2-in-5 or $150-in-5 Rule, then show status under whichever rule applied.  Maybe I would have gotten my mauve background.

So now I guess we should call it the $150-in-5-but-you-better-spend-it-in-the-first-2-and-all-your-schools-should-apply Rule.

Is the Wi-Fi-Rate chimera growing new heads?

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