Rural Alaska School Districts to Receive Hundreds of Thousands of Federal Dollars

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC and Joaqlin Estus, KNBA– Anchorage

A few rural Alaska school districts and the Norton Sound Health Corporation are getting hundreds of thousands of federal dollars to boost their broadband capabilities and better connect them to the outside world.

Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced grant awards for several projects in Alaska. The North Slope Borough School District got the most money with nearly a half million dollars. Other school districts received grants of three to four-hundred thousand dollars each. Secretary Vilsack says the Alaska school projects will fund broadband infrastructure, which will encourage innovative distance learning.

The Alaska Gateway School District, based in Tok, is sharing a grant of $350,000 with the Delta-Greeley school district. Gateway Technology Director Jason Fastenau says the two districts include 14 small, isolated, remote schools.

The Norton Sound Health Corporation is also getting nearly half a million dollars to connect 16 isolated communities in Northwestern Alaska.  Vilsack says video-conferencing will connect patients and doctors there with medical experts in Alaskan hubs or the Lower 48.

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