Facilities and Technology

Minnesota Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid Program Criteria

Minnesota Statutes 2005, Special Session 125B.26

Data Reporting Due: February 28, 2014

What does the Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Program provide?

I. School Districts and Charter Schools

For FY 2006 and later, the Minnesota Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid program provides school districts and charter schools with financial assistance to help with the costs of maintaining Internet access, video connectivity and related telecommunications services as defined on the federal E-Rate Eligible Services List as recurring Priority I services for Internet access, video connectivity, and other related information transfer services. This program does not include and is not intended to support any component of voice services. A school district or charter school’s telecommunications/internet access equity aid equals the approved cost for the previous year that exceeds $15 times the adjusted marginal cost per pupil units (AMCPU) for the previous year OR reimbursement of approved costs with no per pupil unit limit if the school district or charter school is a member of an organized telecommunications access cluster that was in operation by July 1 of the previous funding year.

II. Nonpublic Schools

Nonpublic schools are also entitled to aid under this program. School districts are required to work with the nonpublic schools within their boundaries, at the nonpublic schools’ request, to provide or arrange for telecommunications access services to the nonpublic school either through existing school district providers or through separate providers.

Nonpublic schools receive aid in the amount of the lesser of:

a. Ninety (90) percent of the nonpublic school’s approved cost for the previous fiscal year exceeding $10 per pupil for fiscal year 2006 and later times the number of weighted pupils enrolled at the nonpublic school as of October 1 of the previous school year or
b. The product of the school district’s aid per pupil unit for telecommunications/internet access aid times the number of weighted pupils enrolled at the nonpublic school as of October 1, of the previous school year.

For the purposes of this program, nonpublic pupil counts shall be for pupils weighted by grade level using the weighting factors defined in section 126C.05, subdivision 1.

School districts directly providing telecommunications/Internet access services to nonpublic schools may claim up to five percent of the nonpublic school’s aid for the costs of administering service. The nonpublic school is responsible for the telecommunications/Internet access costs not covered by the program.

At the request of a nonpublic school, a school district may allocate the amount determined for nonpublic telecommunications/Internet access aid directly to the nonpublic school to pay for or offset the nonpublic school’s costs for services; however, the amount allocated directly to the nonpublic school may not exceed the actual amount of the nonpublic school’s ongoing or recurring telecommunications access costs.

How much money is available statewide?

The Legislature has appropriated $3,750,000 for FY 2014.

What is an organized telecommunications access cluster?

An organized telecommunications access cluster meets all of the following conditions:

1. Has a current letter of agency on file for each member school district or charter school that authorizes the organization to file for the federal E-rate telecommunications discount program and/or the state Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid on behalf of member school districts and charter schools OR guides and assists member school districts in filing E-rate and/or Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid applications OR has a joint powers agreement in place that authorizes the entity to procure technology or telecommunications services for member school districts and charter schools.
2. Coordinates the procurement of telecommunications and Internet access services for school districts and charter schools, and uses the cooperative purchasing power of its membership to negotiate telecommunications and Internet access pricing.
3. Provides Internet access and/or video conferencing network support and program coordination to member school districts and charter schools.
4. Is designated as a telecommunications access cluster as a public consortium with a school district number assigned by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Organizations that are currently considered eligible telecommunications clusters by the Minnesota Department of Education include:

East Central MN ED Cable Cooperative (ECMECC) (50-6003)

Contact:Marc Johnson

(320) 396-3674

mjohnson@ecmecc.org

Central Minnesota Education Telecomm Systems (CMETS) (50-6054)

Contact:Jennifer Hiltner

(320) 845-2171

jhiltner@mail.albany.k12.mn.us

Freshwater Education District (61-6004)

Contact:Rich Murdock

(218) 631-3505

rmurdock@fed.k12.mn.us

Little Crow Tele-media Network (50-6040)

Contact:Pete Royer

(320) 295-7411

pete@lctn.k12.mn.us

Minnesota River Valley Education District (61-6018)

Contact:Pete Royer

(320) 295-7411

pete@lctn.k12.mn.us

Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative (82-0991)

Contact:Josh Sumption

(507) 537-2265

Josh.sumption@swsc.org

Project SOCRATES (83-6036)

Contact:Glenn Morris

(507) 389-5106

gmorris@mnscsc.org

Wasioja Education Telecommunications Cooperative (50-6048)

Contact:Aaron Bergstralh

(507) 732-7395 ext 1190

aaron@wetc.coop

SEMNET (83-0921)

Contacts:Kim Ross

(507) 281-6692

kim2.ross@gmail.com

Northwest Links (50-0869)

Contact:Bob Wheeler

(218) 236-2990 ext.101

bob@region1.k12.mn.us

TIES – Region 7 (83-0925)

Contact:Dennis Fazio

(651) 999-6201

dennis.fazio@ties.k12.mn.us

Arrowhead Regional Computing Center (ARCC) (82-0868)

Contact:Cindy Lee Olson

(218) 723-1700 ext.101

cindylee@arcc.org

Northeast Service Cooperative (82-0927)

Contact:Linda Borchardt

(218) 748-7602

lindab@nesc.k12.mn.us

Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (50-6070)

Contact:Matthew Grose

(218) 246-3412

mgrose@isd317.org

Central Minnesota ERDC (82-0867)

Contact:Tracy Fiereck

(320) 257-1924

tfiereck@erdc.k12.mn.us


Scott County Schools Network (50-6081)

Contact:Tim Rybak

(952) 496-5174

trybak@shakopee.k12.mn.us

Mid-State Education District (50-6979)

Contact:Corey Thoma

(320) 360-2952

cthoma@midstate.k12.mn.us

NOTE: There may be organizations that qualify as telecommunications access clusters that do not appear on this list. If you have a question about eligibility of an organization as a telecommunications access cluster, contact Chris Kubesh at (651) 582-8319 or chris.kubesh@state.mn.us.

What constitutes membership in a telecommunications access cluster?

Membership in a telecommunications access cluster is defined by a school district or charter school meeting all of the following conditions.

1. The school district or charter school has filed a current letter of agency that authorizes the organization to file for the federal E-rate telecommunications discount program and/or the Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid program on behalf of member school districts and charter schools OR receives guidance and assistance in filing E-rate and/or Equity Aid applications OR is a member in any joint powers agreement creating the organization.
2. The school district or charter school participates with a telecommunications access organization in a cooperative purchasing arrangement for the procurement of telecommunications and Internet access to ensure economical and efficient telecommunications and Internet access.
3. The school district or charter school receives Internet access and/or video conferencing network support and program coordination from the telecommunications access cluster organization.
4. The school district or charter school must have been a member of a cluster between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013 or prior to receive telecommunications/internet access equity aid on actual FY 2013 costs for FY 2014.

How does a school district, charter school, or nonpublic school receive their funding?

School districts, charter schools, and nonpublic schools are asked to submit their actual costs for telecommunications/Internet access for the previous fiscal year within statutorily allowable cost categories to the Minnesota Department of Education. These costs will then be calculated against the statutory allocation for the program, and funding will be disbursed through the Minnesota Department of Education IDEAS payment system. The Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid statute allows for aid payment for school districts and charter schools who are members of a telecommunications access cluster to be paid directly to the cluster. Nonpublic school aid is paid to the school district in which the nonpublic school resides.

Please note that organizations such as education districts and intermediate districts do not generate telecommunications/internet access equity aid directly. Costs of connectivity for these districts, however, can be claimed by member districts on their behalf.

What schools are eligible to receive aid?

Eligible schools are approved charter schools, public school districts operating elementary, middle, and secondary schools that meet definitions established in Minnesota Statutes Section 120A.05, subdivisions 9, 11, and 13.

In order to be eligible, public school districts and charter school entities must:

1. File an application for the federal E-rate telecommunications discount program either separately or through a telecommunications access cluster that includes a request for discounts for the allowable costs being requested for reimbursement through the Telecommunications Access/Internet Access Aid program. For information on E-rates, visit http://www.universalservice.org/sl.
2. Ensure they have an approved three-year technology plan on file with the Minnesota Department of Education for the 2012-2015 planning cycle.

Nonpublic schools are also eligible. Home schools are NOT eligible.

What allowable costs do school districts, charter schools, and nonpublic schools report to MDE to receive funding?

The Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid program is intended to help schools pay the costs associated with Internet access and related connectivity needed to deliver instruction. It is not intended to support payment for regular telephone voice service. Therefore, each school district, charter school, and nonpublic school should report the following ACTUAL costs for the previous fiscal year AFTER subtracting any E-rate discounts received:

1. Ongoing or recurring costs associated with Internet access, data lines, and video links for the EQUIVALENT of one data line, video link, or integrated data/video link that relies on a transport medium that operates at a minimum speed of 1.544 megabytes per second (T1) for each elementary, middle, or secondary school as defined under Minnesota Statutes Section 120A.05, subdivisions 9, 11, and 13. This can include recurring telecommunications line lease costs and ongoing Internet access fees, OR the equivalent of one data line or video circuit, or integrated data/video link that relies on a transport medium that operates at a minimum speed of 1.544 megabytes per second (T1) for each district, including recurring telecommunications line lease costs and ongoing Internet access fees.
2. Service provider installation fees for installation of NEW telecommunications lines or increased bandwidth, usually billed as nonrecurring charges (NRC). Installation fees eligible are eligible service installed within FY 2011 (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012).
3. Recurring costs of contractual or vendor-provided maintenance on the school district, charter school, or nonpublic school wide area network to the point of presence at the school building up to the router, codec, or other service delivery equipment located at the point of presence termination at the school.
4. Recurring costs of cooperative, shared arrangements for regional delivery of telecommunications/Internet access between school districts, postsecondary institutions, and public libraries. These include shared costs for gateway connections, peering points, regional network infrastructure, Internet 2 access, network support, maintenance, and coordination. These costs may also include costs for cooperatives that own their own fiber or maintain wireless connections for school district members, maintenance may be reimbursed if the costs are reasonable and total cost does not exceed Category 1.

Again, all costs are to be ACTUAL and reported AFTER -Rate discounts received have been subtracted.

For any service that is in question, the Minnesota Department of Education will consult the current Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) Eligible Services List for the E-Rate program for guidance on any extenuating situations.

Nonpublic schools are eligible for E-Rates and are encouraged to apply for E-Rate to leverage state resources. Nonpublic schools, however, are not required by the Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid statute to either apply for E-Rates or file a three-year technology plan with MDE.

School districts are not required to report data for nonpublic schools within their boundaries. Nonpublic schools should report cost data directly to MDE.

What is not allowable?

1. Recurring costs of school district or school staff providing network infrastructure support.
2. Recurring costs associated with voice and standard telephone service.
3. Costs associated with purchase of network hardware, telephones, computers, or other peripheral equipment needed to deliver telecommunications access to the school district or school.
4. Costs associated with laying fiber for telecommunications access.
5. Costs associated with wiring individual school or school district buildings.
6. Costs associated with the purchase, installation, or purchase and installation of Internet filtering.
7. Costs associated with digital content, including online learning or distance learning programming, software or digital resource subscriptions, and information data bases.

How do I submit my costs to the MDE?

MDE has created an online data collection website for schools or clusters to submit cost and e-rate data. The deadline to submit cost data is February 28, 2014.Log in here to enter the data collection website. (https://collaboration.education.state.mn.us/Telecomm/default.aspx)

Can my telecommunications access cluster report costs on my behalf?

Yes. Telecommunications Access Clusters may enter cost data on the MDE website for member districts as long as the cluster has been given authority by the school district to submit on their behalf. School districts and charter schools should check with the appropriate Telecommunications Access Cluster coordinator to verify whether data will be submitted by the school district/charter school or the cluster. See the list of cluster representatives included in this document.

What additional documentation do I need to submit?

The following items are acceptable documentation, depending on the cost category:

1. Copy of a monthly telecommunications service provider invoice or other type of invoice for an allowable service.
2. Other evidence of expenditure for the categories of allowable cost as long as the document is itemized and provides a clear relationship to the costs reported.
3. A copy of the Letter of Agency authorizing a telecommunications cluster to apply for the federal E-rate telecommunications discount program and/or Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid on behalf of a member school district or charter school.

For information regarding the Minnesota Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid Program Criteria, please contact:

Chris Kubesh

Program Finance

Phone: (651) 582-8319

E-mail: chris.kubesh@state.mn.us