March 14, 2016
TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:
SUBJECT: E-rate Filing Window, School Technology and Readiness (STaR) Chart, and Technology Plans
The purpose of this letter is to inform school districts and charter schools of several technology related programs and deadlines.
E-rate Filing Window
The filing window for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) E-rate program is currently open and will remain open through at least 11:59:59 P.M. EDT, April 29, 2016. Applicants must submit both FCC Form 470 and Form 471 electronically during the window using the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC’s) new online system, the E-rate Productivity Center, at https://portal.usac.org/suite/. Under this timeline, the last possible opportunity to file an FCC Form 470 ends at 11:59:59 P.M. EDT, April 1, 2016. Applicants should file as early as possible, leaving ample time to address any issues or questions that may arise during the filing process. Applicants are reminded that the FCC has placed an emphasis on WiFi funding and allows for funding at $150 (pre-discount) per student for WiFi connectivity over a five year period. Program rules have also changed to allow for school district self-construction of fiber-based networks.
The STaR Chart is open for the 2015–2016 school year. While completion of the STaR Chart is no longer mandatory, school districts may elect to have teachers and librarians complete the chart and use STaR Chart data to inform district-level programs and reports. Because a large number of districts from across the state continue to use the STaR Chart, TEA will use the data to complete the 2016 Progress Report on the Long-Range Plan for Technology. For districts that have opted to use other survey tools but wish to be represented in the data used for the 2016 progress report, TEA plans to post a District STaR Chart in an easy-to-use online survey tool in late March and invite districts that no longer use STaR Chart to submit data using that tool. Information about the voluntary survey will be shared through various listserv bulletins throughout the coming weeks.
Although technology plans are no longer required for E-rate purposes, it is important that districts have current technology plans on file to help ensure eligibility for potential future funding opportunities that do require them. Districts are encouraged to produce technology plans, submit them through TEA’s online ePlan system, and regularly review and update them. A formal submission process requiring review and approval at the regional and state level is no longer required. Districts should be aware, however, that TEA periodically receives requests from the Legislative Budget Board to provide data collected through the ePlan system.
If you have questions or need more information, please contact Educational Technology staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Division of Instructional Materials and Educational Technology at (512) 463-9601
Standards and Programs
Texas Education Agency