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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Not up to the challenge

At yesterday's E-mpa® meeting, John Harrington from Funds for Learning delivered a report that was chock full of data (and more importantly, data delivered in the form of pictures, just the way I like it).  I found this to be the most interesting picture:

The blue column is the number of entities that applied in FY 2014-2015, and applied again in FY 2015-2016.  The red column is entities that didn't apply last year, but did apply this year.  The green column is entities that applied last year, but didn't apply this year.

The most significant bar for me is the green bar for Schools.  Almost 30% of schools that were in the program have left!  I guess it's not really surprising.  If you're a single-building school, you have maybe 10 phone lines, 2 cell phones, a cable modem, and a website.  The phone lines were running you about $3,000/year, the cell phones $720,the cable modem $1,500, and the website $1,200.  Let's say you're able to prove that 1% of your kids are low-income and you got a 40% discount.  Your funding was close to $2,600 last year.  This year?  Maybe $1,300, if you're able to show that most of the cell phone bill was for voice.  Next year?  $600. (Not able to document enough low-income students?  Last year's $1,300 in funding becomes $300 this year.)  If I'm one of those schools, I might drop back into the program one year to collect my $150/student in Category 2 funding, but otherwise, it's not worth my time.

And then there's the data that's not on the graph: according to the US Dept. of Education, there are 30,861 private schools in this country.  So school participation in the E-Rate has dropped from 30% to 22%.

Maybe they're moving into consortia?  Nope, the number of consortia in the program also dropped.  Hey whoa, those slivers are so tiny, they obscure the fact that almost 30% of the consortia that were in the program last year left this year.  So much for encouraging consortia.

Not long ago, the Chairman said: "These reforms will only have their intended impact if schools and libraries step up to take advantage of new opportunities. Early indications are that they are up to the challenge."  I guess 2,596 schools weren't up to the challenge.

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