Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted has announced via Twitter that the DeWine administration will seek to expand internet access to school children. The administration plans to set aside $50 million in federal CARES Act money for the program.
The administration has posted a Request for Information (RFI) on the state procurement website seeking providers for everything from laptops and tablets to internet hotspots for Ohio schools. The move is a part of the state broadband strategy unveiled in December to expand high-speed internet access across Ohio. The administration’s strategy argues that “incomplete broadband connectivity is putting Ohio at a competitive disadvantage.”
“You can’t be a part of the modern economy and education system without access to high-speed internet,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted in announcing the RFI. “In some parts of Ohio, the marketplace is not solving the issue on its own, so we are pushing it into action and asking the private sector to work with us to help the people in these areas. By leveraging public assets, we can get people access to the technology infrastructure they need to succeed.”
The Legislature is responding to the strategy. In June, the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 13, which helps expand broadband across Ohio. The bill awaits consideration in the Senate.
This follows the creation in March of BroadbandOhio, a new department in the Development Services Agency.
In Northeast Ohio, DigitalC, a Cleveland nonprofit, has created a program called EmpowerCLE to bring high-quality digital service to low- and moderate-income households in the city. The program is a response to the need of Cleveland Metropolitan School District students to have home access to homework and other school projects.
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