As part of a Future Ready Oregon initiative, Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill on Friday promising to improve high-speed internet for Oregon's rural schools.
The bill establishes the Connecting Oregon Schools Funds used to support broadband access for K-12 public schools in the state, bringing high-speed internet to rural and underserved communities.
"The internet democratizes knowledge, and access to it needs to be as reliable for students in Elgin as it is in Eugene," Gov. Brown said.
There are around 40 school districts in Oregon that lack affordable broadband connections to their classrooms.
"It's a big step forward in making sure that our students have the tools they need to forge a path to graduation, and in closing the skills gap between the workforce we have and the workforce Oregon's growing businesses need," she added.
The Connecting Oregon Schools Fund will support Elgin, Huntington, and Imbler schools in the InterMountain and Malheur education service districts to obtain scalable infrastructure so their students can take advantage of new developments in technology.
"Every student in Oregon deserves access to high-speed internet to achieve their educational goals," Intermountain Education Service District Superintendent Dr. Mark Mulvihill said.
Nine districts will seek funding from the Federal Communications Commission School and Libraries program and the new Connecting Oregon Schools Fund. They are requesting around $400,000 dollars in state funds, which combined with federal matching funds will gain up to $6 million
The funds will be used to put in place 100 miles of new fiber optic connections.