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For Immediate Release: Sept. 21, 2011
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Partnership brings faster Internet to South Dakota schools

Students in 110 South Dakota school districts may have noticed something upon heading back to classes this year – faster Internet.

It’s part of the Dakota Digital Network K-12 Broadband Upgrade project, and it’s made possible by a partnership among the state’s Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, state Department of Education and 15 local telecommunications providers.

The Bureau of Information and Telecommunications is the state of South Dakota’s resource for information technology support, including computers, communications devices, software, connectivity and more.

“Today’s learning environment increasingly relies on emerging Web-based applications and content, which results in a growing need for bandwidth,” said South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp. “This improvement project will help to ensure that our students have access to effective and up-to-date electronic resources.”

In addition to the 178 schools that have already been upgraded, 31 school districts representing an additional 36 sites are currently in the midst of the conversion to an Ethernet connection, which allows for faster and more reliable Internet access.

Any remaining districts will be done in the future, and upgrades will occur as services become available in those areas. Construction plans for digging the lines, weather, cost and manpower at the local-provider level are all factors that affect the time when services become available in a particular area. The long-range plan is to make high-speed broadband services available to every school district in the state.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s largest school district, was one of the first to be upgraded, with 38 of 39 sites updated so far.

“In order to prepare each student to succeed and compete globally, our classrooms must be highly interactive and connected to the world. The interactive classroom with high-speed connectivity would not be possible without our state’s commitment to provide increased bandwidth in our schools,” said Superintendent Pam Homan. “Thanks to this effort, students and teachers of the Sioux Falls School District are able to benefit from instruction immersed in technology resources.”