Wolf Administration Highlights How Restore Pennsylvania Will Help Broadband Issues in Rural Schools

Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives Acting Executive Director Sheri Collins and Department of Education Deputy Secretary for Commonwealth Libraries Glenn Miller visited Harmony Area School District in Clearfield County to discuss how lack of access to high-speed internet hurts students’ ability to learn, and how the Restore Pennsylvania proposal will help to close the digital divide.

“Students lacking access to critical tools–like the internet–face challenges and barriers that students residing in different zip codes don’t experience,” said Acting Executive Director Collins. “Fixing this inequity is a commonsense way to level the playing field between all students, so that we can ensure their growth and success, both in and out of the classroom.”

Restore Pennsylvania is a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs, and the $4.5 billion bipartisan funding proposal will completely bridge the digital divide in every community in Pennsylvania. Funding will be available to support the installation of infrastructure to bring high-speed internet to every corner of the commonwealth.

“The Department of Education works each day to ensure students can succeed by helping schools provide high-quality resources and instruction,” said Deputy Secretary Miller. “But if a student leaves the classroom and those resources disappear, it makes it more difficult for that student to reach his or her academic, social, and emotional goals. It is incumbent upon us to use Restore Pennsylvania to help bridge this digital divide for all students, no matter where in Pennsylvania they live.”

Nearly a million Pennsylvanians today lack access to reliable high-speed internet. The problem is exacerbated in rural areas like Westover where Harmony Area School District is located. Modern teaching methods often require access to high-speed internet, but without abundant broadband access, those methods often cannot be used by teachers. Due to the cost of broadband infrastructure, local municipalities cannot fund the purchase and installation of that infrastructure themselves. If passed into law, Restore Pennsylvania will support every phase of the process from feasibility testing to connection at a level far beyond any existing funding mechanisms.

“Harmony School District students, parents, and teachers should all be able to take part in the more modern and efficient education methods that so many Pennsylvania school districts in less isolated areas experience. The lack of reliable, high-speed internet access can halt the productivity of students and teachers the minute they leave the building,” said Harmony School District Principal Douglas Martz.