A new report out from Idaho Education News (IEN) says contractors are lining up to vie for the new Idaho broadband network for schools. As CivSource has reported, the network meant to provide Idaho students with high-speed internet access has been hanging in the balance since a judge voided the original contract in November of last year.
Since then, state lawmakers have told schools they will have to find their own short term plans to keep the network online through the end of the school year. Without a network, over $200 million in federal education funds are at stake. Those funds hinge on the school’s ability to provide computer-based standardized testing for students, and without a network those students including distance learners wouldn’t be able to take the test. Federal requirements mandate a 95% participation rate.
State officials were given legal counsel that said the best way out of the current predicament was to re-bid the contract and start fresh with a new network provider. The current network provider – CenturyLink has kept the network online since November when the contract was voided but says the state owes them nearly $4 million in backpay on top of what it would cost to keep the existing network in place through the end of the school year.
According to IEN, the providers range from big names like Cisco, to Syringa networks which filed the original suit in the November case. Others include ENA, the lead vendor on a failed 2009 contract and Ednetics. Many of the providers who have responded to the RFI are also pushing for short-term contracts with individual districts.