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State lawmakers ask public school districts to help pay for broadband expansion

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:11 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Some Louisiana state lawmakers are asking the State Department of Education to help expand broadband to rural areas.

The effort is being led by Avoyelles State Rep. Darryl Deshotel. He and all of Cenla’s delegation, and others from across the state, signed a letter asking the State Department Of Education to use part of the $1 billion federal coronavirus aid to expand broadband. Because of the pandemic, around 700,000 public school students are relying on virtual education, but a State Department of Education study found 25 percent of students across Louisiana lack the needed internet access. Rep. Deshotel said he’s asking the Department of Education to help out along with federal, state and private partners.

“It’s very important that we get the students the access that they need,” said Rep. Deshotel. “Once the pandemic is over, life isn’t going back to normal. Those kids are still going to have homework and things that they need to do online. So I asked the Department of Education to be a partner to solve the digital divide for our rural communities.”

Deshotel said the schools would work with his newly created Office of Broadband and Connectivity. The $1 billion will be available in June and January.

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