“Collectively the joint project will result in students from Lakota, Monroe, and Middletown having high speed Internet in their homes.”
The new law will provide affordable access to high-speed internet statewide making it easily for their children to learn.
The bill provides $20 million statewide to fund the broadband project with plans to secure $200 million in funding that has wide support from Republicans and Democrats, DeWine said during a press conference at Amanda Elementary School in Middletown.
Middletown is one of the few school systems in southwest Ohio at which 100 percent of school families fall within household income categories to qualify for federal free and reduced school meals.
About 20 percent of Middletown’s 6,300 students come from homes without access either via internet cable or wireless systems to digital learning programs produced by their teachers in the district. Many students also lack computers, or other mobile devices on which to learn digitally, said district officials.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020 thrust the issue into the forefront as schools across the nation had to shutter schools and scramble to try to teach children at home.
Middletown school officials and teachers cobbled together various strategies but had to still resort in some cases to teachers driving to students’ homes and delivering and picking up paper lesson assignments because their families had no internet access.
Styles has long championed the cause to bridging the digital gap and has become one of the more high-profile faces nationwide for advocating for more funding.
Last year the superintendent testified remotely to U.S. House of Representatives’ Education and Labor Committee on the issue.
Styles told Congressional leaders: “The (digital) equity gap is taking center stage in this country,” Styles said. “Students are either logged in or logged out” of internet learning.
Styles said there is still more to be done.
“At graduation, I used the line ‘you didn’t come this far to only come this far,’”
“Ohio has come a long way in addressing the inequities represented by the (digital divide), but it must continue to embrace opportunities to provide equity for all Ohio students to pursue their dreams.”