Massachusetts Doles Out $3.8 Million in Grants to Improve School Digital Infrastructure

Two central state school districts intend to use the funds for wireless and broadband access.

by Telegram & Gazette / July 19, 2018

(TNS) — Two Central Massachusetts districts will be recipients of state grants announced by Gov. Charlie Baker's office on Wednesday that are intended to help schools bolster their online learning infrastructure.

Leominster will receive grants totaling $435,141 for five of its schools, while Wachusett Regional will be awarded $73,292 for its high school. That funding is part of a total $3.8 million the state will dole out to 27 districts through its Digital Connections matching state grant program.

"Improving technology infrastructure in schools across the Commonwealth will help ensure students continue to receive the educational experiences they need to be successful," Mr. Baker said in a statement Wednesday. "These grants will help make classrooms more engaging for thousands of Massachusetts students."

Investing in technology has also become a necessity for public schools, however, as the state's MCAS assessment test migrates to an online format. Initially introduced last year at the fourth and eighth grades, the digital version is slated to become the standard for all testing grades by next year.

"While some schools, especially those in newer buildings, have considerable technology, we know that others have struggled to add infrastructure," Jeffrey C. Riley, the state's education commissioner, said in a statement. "These grants will help with that work and will result in students and teachers having better access to educational tools and materials."

The competitive Digital Connections grants are specifically intended to help districts pay for things like expanding wireless Internet accessibility, and increasing broadband access.

In the region, Leominster's Fall Brook Elementary School will receive the largest grant of $105,929. Other Leominster schools getting awards include Frances Drake School ($102,942), Johnny Appleseed Elementary School ($96,109), Northwest Elementary School ($95,485), and Priest Street School ($34,676).

Funding has also been allocated through the Digital Connections program for two Northbridge schools this fiscal year, according to the governor's office.

©2018 Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.