Rural schools and libraries in Indiana could receive more federal funding after the Federal Communications Commission promised earlier this month to invest an additional $2 billion over the next two years to increase access to high-speed broadband internet.
Schools and libraries without broadband access can apply to the FCC to be reimbursed between 20 and 90 percent of costs to install and maintain broadband internet.
Morgan County Public Library Director Krista Ledbetter says the additional funding will greatly benefit the library as its internet usage rises but budgets decrease.
“The recession hit a lot of people hard, they don’t have computers at home or if they do have computers at home, a lot of times the first things to go are things that might not be such a necessity like internet access, so they come here to use our computers,” Ledbetter said.
Brown County Schools are already taking part in the program. They installed broadband last year at three elementary schools and the FCC program covered 80 percent of the cost.
Technology Director for Brown County Schools John Emkes says the internet access has changed the way students learn.
“We have nearly 180 wireless access points, so we usually have notebooks and tablets, PCs, Ultrabooks, for instance, at each of those schools where the students can actually just take a computer to their desk, turn it on, log in and away they go,” Emkes said.
Once broadband internet has been installed in schools, FCC officials say their next goal is to train teachers to incorporate more technology in their classrooms.