I attended the SLD E-rate training in Washington, DC on September 26. For starters, I am impressed with Craig Davis who is the new Vice President of the Schools and Libraries Division. While it is clear that he is still learning a lot about the E-rate, he seems to really care about helping the program run more effectively. I was impressed with his candor. He acknowledged many of the on-going challenges with the new E-rate portal and pledged to work with stakeholder groups going forward to alleviate the issues involved.
The E-rate training itself started off with an overview of the entire program. This is important for new participants in order to understand the general process before delving into the different phases of the program. The SLD has estimated in the past that approximately 30% of the E-rate coordinators are new each year. This makes it critical for the SLD to train new applicants and to reach out to those that are not able to attend one of the upcoming trainings. (Respondents to our nationwide survey listed the weekly USAC News Brief as one of the top resources for learning about the program.)
Through the course of the day there were multiple opportunities for participants to ask questions. Many of the questions related to fiber optic networks. The SLD and the FCC staff in attendance said that further guidance would be forthcoming about fiber projects, as well as more nuanced issues. I am assuming that the SLD will provide answers to some of the questions at upcoming trainings, or via their web site.
Funds For Learning has posted the USAC training presentations on its website for stakeholders to view. The slides are here.
I appreciate the SLD staff conducting the trainings in various cities and wish everyone a successful FY 2017.