Middleton Cross Plains receives FCC pandemic funding for updated chrome books and internet

MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) – An FCC financial program is helping Wisconsin schools and libraries bounce back from the pandemic.

As of this week, the emergency connectivity program is supplying Wisconsin schools and libraries with nearly $54 million in new technology benefiting students, the Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) said.

Several schools in the Madison area have applied to the program and will receive some of these funds.

The Middleton Cross Plains Area School Dist. Is receiving more than $800,000 dollars to improve their resources for the district, which they hope in turn closes the digital divide.

“It makes a huge difference for us, because if you can imagine providing that many devices on our budget, being constrained the way it is, we probably would have a very difficult time doing that,” James Blodgett, the Dir. of Technology Services in the MCPSD said. “With the pandemic starting in the spring of 2020, we were not a one-to-one Chrome book to student district. And so, we ended up having to scavenge a bunch of chrome books to meet the needs of our families for that spring and then into the fall.”

Now, Blodgett’s district will use the money from the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to buy 123 new Chrome books and provide internet access to 110 students.

“This is one way to help close that equity gap, so all children have access outside of school,” Rachel Schemelin, an Education Consultant with the Libraries and Technology division of DPI said. “Schools are eligible for this, even though they are in person learning, to help close that homework gap, which is an important piece that children have faced before the pandemic and will continue to face after.”

Blodgett hopes with this boost in funds, his district can close that gap for students, no matter what happens.

“Right now, we’re fully face to face, everyone is wearing a mask, people are getting vaccinated, so hopefully that helps, but if there is a point where we have to go back to virtual, we have to have those devices ready to go,” Blodgett said.

The DPI says there are still 93 applications pending for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. If approved, Wisconsin schools could see an additional $84 million.

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