KASB President Lori Blake’s Statement of Support for the Office of Broadband DevelopmentRachel Thomas
The following statement may be attributed to KASB President Lori C. Blake:
The Kansas Association of School Boards applauds Governor Laura Kelly for her Executive Order establishing the Office of Broadband Development to promote universal access to broadband internet service in Kansas.
KASB also appreciates the work of the SPARK Executive Committee and Task Force, the State Finance Council, the Kansas Department of Commerce, and the numerous public-private partnerships that led to the designation of more than $49 million in CARES Act funding to make broadband internet more accessible in Kansas. We look forward to supporting this initiative with our schools and their partners.
Universal access to broadband is critical to the academic success of the state’s K-12 students. Their future depends on mastery of a myriad of online resources that promote career and academic excellence and equip Kansas to lead the world in the success of each student.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic 70,000 Kansas students did not have access to reliable home broadband internet service. The most recent data indicates that number has more than doubled to 156,000 students who cannot complete online assignments or obtain the resources they need to be successful in the modern economy. This is especially troubling in a time when Kansas schools must plan for the possibility of moving instruction online to protect their students, staff, and families from the virus.
The establishment of the Office of Broadband Development is a significant step toward closing the “homework gap” between students with broadband internet and those without, but this important work will take a continued and concerted effort by many dedicated Kansans.
The Kansas Association of School Boards stands ready to work with our state and federal lawmakers and fellow Kansas stakeholders to ensure universal access to broadband to support a bright future for our students and our state.