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SSD Awarded E-Rate Funding to Upgrade Broadband Infrastructure
Lauren Goins
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Graphic showing a computer containing multiple books

Sheridan, Ark. -- The importance of integrating technology into classroom instruction is growing, and the Sheridan School District is working to ensure it has the infrastructure necessary to support this growing demand.

Thanks to $136,284 in federal funding provided through the E-Rate Schools and Libraries Program, the students and staff at Sheridan School District are now benefiting from faster, more reliable Internet service and will see even greater benefits this school year.

“We are very grateful to have been awarded this E-Rate funding, and I am extremely proud of our technology team,” said Sheridan Superintendent Jerrod Williams. “Our technology department invested a lot of time and effort into the application process and continues to work diligently to ensure our students and staff have the technology resources they need.”

Over the recent summer months, the district used the E-Rate funding to raise its broadband to 500 megabytes. During the 2016-17 school year, the district will be using the funding for additional broadband infrastructure upgrades.

Upgrades include an additional 100 megabytes to Internet speeds; replacing the cables at Sheridan Intermediate School with Cat6 cabling; installing several new switches throughout the district; and adding new uninterruptible power supplies to protect these investments from electrical damage.

“We also plan to install a direct fiber link between Sheridan and East End schools, further unifying our district and lowering broadband costs,” said Technology Coordinator Calvin Hudson.

Sheridan and East End are approximately 20 miles apart. According to Hudson, the new fiber link between the Sheridan and East End schools will reduce broadband costs, because it will allow the district to share and push out its own bandwidth between the campuses rather than paying different providers in order to support both areas. Adding the new fiber will increase internal bandwidth efficiency: support a more reliable disaster recovery plan; and pave the way for the district to implement a digital phone system, dramatically reducing the cost of long distance service.

The E-Rate Schools and Libraries Program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company. The program provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. Discounts for support range from 20 to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services.

The Sheridan School District received an 80 percent discount through the program on its category two projects approved for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.