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MN Training: An Attendees Perspective

No News is Sometimes the Best News

My associate Tim Bethke and I attended USAC Training in Minneapolis this week. Probably some of the best news to come out of the training this year is how little the program and the systems are changing between 2016 and 2017. Change is good and necessary for making progress, but perhaps we can all agree that what we need in the program right now is more stability. The new EPC system got off to a bit of a rocky start last year, and many of us are just now feeling like we know our way around in there. Let’s get the systems where we can depend on them and get more familiar with the recent changes to the program. Then we can revisit how to make changes that will make the program better with a little less anxiety.

We noticed something unusual this year at training. Almost all of the presentations were given by John Noran and Leslie Frelow with two exceptions: Mackenzie Howard gave the E-rate Fundamentals presentation (the first one of the day) and Craig Davis gave the opening remarks. Mr. Noran and Ms. Frelow are both skilled presenters, but I think the day could have benefited from spreading the presenting duties around a little more. The material can be a bit dry at times, so finding ways to shake things up would be good. I did get a chance to ask Mr. Davis about this during a break. It sounded like USAC is playing catch-up with getting the 2016 applications processed, so it was decided that this was the best way to use their staff this year.

Speaking of Craig Davis, it was a pleasure to meet the new head of the Schools and Libraries Division. His personality is refreshing: less politician and more of a pragmatist/realist. He openly acknowledged some of the shortcomings of EPC and seems to be focused on making changes for the good of E-rate stakeholders.  During the conversation Tim & I had with him it sounded like he has some innovative ideas for future trainings. I’m hopeful that the new leadership in the program translates to a bright future for the program and the schools and libraries that benefit from it.

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