Keeping Up with E-rate and California Teleconnect Fund Discounts
Protect your E-rate and California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) discounts by staying informed about changes to these telecommunications discount programs. Highlighted in this article are the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), new E-rate information, CTF program changes, E-rate and CTF training, and California Department of Education (CDE) efforts.
Children's Internet Protection Act
CIPA requires schools and libraries receiving E-rate or Title III ESEA grants to filter access to the Internet, notice the public about an Internet Safety Policy (ISP), and adopt an ISP. As with any new regulations, there are questions about implementation issues. To address the need to get accurate information to the schools districts, the CDE is working with the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD), CIPA experts and the California Technology Assistance Project to develop and deliver training in the fall of 2001. Watch the Education Technology Office page of the California Department of Education Web site for details at www.cde.ca.gov/edtech.
FCC Releases Order on Year 4 Funding Priorities
On June 29th, the FCC released an order stating that the rules for allocating discounts on requests for Internal Connections will not be revised for Year 4 applications. Earlier in the year, the FCC proposed funding priority would be given to requests for internal connections made by schools that did not receive funding commitments for internal connections during the previous funding year. Comments from the national E-rate community persuaded the FCC not to change the funding priority rules for Year 4.
Extended deadlines for non-recurring services
The FCC extended the deadline for schools and libraries to use their discounts on Funding Year 1 non-recurring services from June 30, 1999 (the end of the funding period) to September 30, 1999. In Funding Year 1, a number of schools and libraries received late notice of funding commitment decisions, making it difficult for them to install internal connections in a timely manner. The extension recognized delays in the implementation of the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism in the first year of the program. Also, under certain conditions, the deadlines were extended to schools and libraries to use their discounts on non-recurring services to September 30 for Funding Years 2 and 3.
Certain recipients of E-rate funding have received or may receive extensions of the implementation deadline for delivery and installation of non-recurring services (that is, Funding Request that have one-time charges). The SLD Web site lists Funding Request Numbers, extension dates, and describes how to use the Extension table and the process to follow if you believe the extension deadlines are incorrect or missing.
Year 4 Funding Waves
The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) announced that the first wave of Funding Commitment Decision Letters for Funding Year 4 (Funding Year beginning July 1, 2001) will be mailed and information will be posted on the SLD Web site on Monday, July 23, 2001. Additional Year 4 waves of Funding Commitment Letters will be issued every two weeks. For waves issued after this first wave, SLD plans to mail letters on Fridays - the next wave will be mailed on August 3. There will be sufficient funding for approved Priority 1 requests, discount requests for Telecommunications Services and Internet Access. It still remains fuzzy how and to what level Priority 2, internal connections requests, will be funded.
According to the SLD, a revised Form 486 will be released in late July. In addition to the form's original purpose of acknowledging the start of service, the new Form 486 incorporates certifications required by CIPA. For Year 4 funding, be sure to submit the Form 486 dated July 2001.
For consortia applications, a new Form 479, Certification by Administrative Authority to Billed Entity of Compliance with the CIPA, is available on the SLD Web site in the Forms section (http://www.sl.universalservice.org/form/). Administrative Authorities who are not Billed Entities will use the Form 479 to certify CIPA compliance.
Please visit the SLD Web site "What's New" and "SLD Forms" pages at www.sl.universalservice.org/ for details on these E-rate issues.
California Teleconnect Fund
The California Public Utilities Commission adopted several changes to the CTF. Changes include adding consortia as eligible CTF entities; the inclusion of the Digital California Project as an eligible CTF consortium; increasing the CTF budget for claims from $50 million to $55 million beginning in fiscal year 2002-03; approved eligible services to include higher bandwidth services, and eliminated the fund allocation provision to CTF eligible entities. If your district is not taking advantage of this CPUC telecommunications discount program, please visit the CPUC site at www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/industry/telco/ consumer+information/public+programs/ctf.htm. It is an easy to get 50% off your phone bills.
California Department of Education
E-rate Training Collaborative
It is time to start thinking about E-rate funding Year 5. The CDE is collaborating with E-rate service providers and local education agency E-rate experts to design training to enable school staff that has not previously applied for E-rate to submit the basic forms for basic E-rate eligible services. School districts that have not applied for E-rate or CTF discounts should attend this "beginner E-rate training" to find out why every school district should be participating in these telecommunications discount programs and how to apply. For staff experienced with E-rate, training for "experienced E-rate staff" will include updated E-rate and CTF information including information about eligible services, new Forms 479 and 486, new visuals illustrating processing timelines, Form 500 changing service providers, CIPA, Digital California Project information, and telecommunications discount application strategies.
Help Create the New CDE Web Site
The CDE web site will be under going a major redesign in the coming months and CDE is soliciting feedback from users of the site to assist in this redesign. Please visit the CDE site and complete the CDE Web site survey. To access this survey go to www.cde.ca.gov/websitesurvey/ or visit CDE's home page at www.cde.ca.gov/ and scroll down to the "How is our site?" link under the "Contact Us" section. Please share this information with others who might be interested in providing feedback to CDE.
Wayne Shimizu is an Education Programs Consultant for the California Department of Education's Educational Technology Office.