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Berkeley schools to get federal funds for Internet upgrades

May 17, 2009

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Berkeley County Schools will receive the second-largest portion of $5.4 million in federal dollars that have been allocated to West Virginia public schools and libraries for Internet access improvements, according to a news release from Sen. Jay Rockefeller's office.

"I have been fighting hard for many years to make sure that all students and communities in West Virginia -- rich or poor, urban or rural -- continue to receive the technology funding they need," said Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in a news release.

"As chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, I believe up-to-date technology is critical in linking our students and community members to important resources locally and across the globe."

The money was awarded through the E-Rate program, which was established 13 years ago, according to Rockefeller's office. Berkeley County Schools received $555,810.01.

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When the program was launched by federal legislation, only 14 percent of classrooms were connected to the Internet and only 5 percent of disadvantaged schools were connected, according to the news release.

Now, the proportion of classrooms with Internet access has grown to 94 percent for all classrooms and 91 percent for disadvantaged classrooms nationwide, according to the most recent survey published by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Berkeley County Schools Director of Communications Jaimee Borger said most of the money awarded to the school system will be used to expand the district's bandwidth, which will speed up Internet access for instructional purposes, including downloading functions.

The school district currently has been grappling with a "bottleneck" that has somewhat slowed Internet use as the student population has increased.

Borger said school officials are currently assessing demand for Internet access on a school-by-school basis.

Raleigh County Schools received the largest grant -- $699,958.50 -- of the $5,485,236 in technology funding awarded, according to the news release.

A breakdown of West Virginia funding levels awarded to each school and library is available on the Universal Service Administrative Co. Web site at www.sl.universalservice.org/funding.

-- Matthew Umstead




Berkeley County Schools: $555,810.01

Morgan County Public Library: $1,040.85

Morgan County Schools: $213,981.24

Paw Paw Public Library: $1,060.33

Shepherdstown Public Library: $470.04

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