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School volunteers recognized
E-rate funding saves USD 428 $47K
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Great Bend Superintendent Brad Reed recently voiced his thanks for the “scores of volunteers” who donate time to USD 428 learning centers every year.
“USD 428 appreciates the many persons who generously volunteer to assist in various capacities in the schools,” Reed said. It’s estimated that volunteers provide 154 hours each week across the district, with many additional hours relating to special events.
“Thanks to all who volunteer their time for the benefit of students,” Reed said.
He also invited others to consider joining their ranks. “We would like our community involved as much as we can in our public schools.”  

E-rate requests approved
Each year, the schools and libraries receive federal money, from the Universal Service Fund, which is administered under the direction of the Federal Communication Commission. The program is commonly called E-rate, and is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services.
When the USD 428 Board of Education met on Feb. 8, it approved four E-rate funding requests for the 2016-17 school year. Contracts with COX-WAN, TwoTrees Internet, Nex-Tech Local and Long Distance, and Nex-Tech Cellular came to a total of $154,241, but with more than $107,000 coming from E-rate, the cost to the school district will be $46,945.
“E-rate is a significant help to the district,” said Khris Thexton, assistant superintendent and director of business and operations.
Thexton noted that the district’s cost for telephones will come down next year because of the new system being installed.
“In the future, E-rate won’t cover phone service,” Thexton said. Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is being phased out at a rate of 20 percent a year as the focus on Wi-fi Internet connectivity for every classroom increases. Cellular phone voice service is also being phased out.
The Schools and Libraries program, or E-rate, is one of four programs established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The others are Connect America Fund (formally known as High-Cost Support) for rural areas; Lifeline (for low-income consumers), including initiatives to expand phone service for residents of Tribal lands; and Rural Health Care.