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Last week, Southside Virginia got a huge boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – or stimulus bill, which I supported – with a major investment that will benefit our kids’ educational success in the short term and make our region more competitive in the long term. Two grants totaling more than $21.5 million will expand broadband internet infrastructure in our schools to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, and create jobs.
The two grants will add 575 miles of new high-speed internet infrastructure in southern Virginia.
The largest award of $16 million to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative will add 465 miles of new fiber that will directly connect 121 K-12 schools in southern Virginia to an existing 800-mile, fiber, high-speed network. By improving connection speeds for these schools from 1.5 Mbps to at least10 Mbps, these new fiber connections will allow the schools, many in isolated areas, to take advantage of distance learning and virtual classroom opportunities.
In addition, the expanded fiber network will spur affordable broadband service to local consumers by enabling more than 30 Internet service providers to connect to the project’s open network. This project conservatively estimates creating 75 jobs, including construction, clerical, administrative, engineering, and inspection jobs.
There are a number of localitites in the coverage area whose schools are already connected: the Counties of Appomattox, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Brunswick, Halifax, and the Cities of Danville and Martinsville.
Starting on the first day of school in fall of 2011, here are the new schools that will be connected to the broadband network:
Bedford County: Moneta Elementary, Body Camp School, Huddleston Elementary, Otter River Elementary, Bedford Middle School, Liberty High, Big Island Elementary, Goodview Elementary, Staunton River Middle, Staunton River High, Stewardsville Elementary, Montvale Elementary, Thaxton Elementary, Bedford Primary, Bedford Elementary, School Board Office, Boonsboro Elementary, New London Academy Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Forest Middle, Jefferson Forest Middle, Forest Elementary.
Buckingham County: Dillwyn Elementary, Gold Hill Elementary, Buckingham Primary, Buckingham Middle, Buckingham High, School Board Office, Dillwyn Primary.
Campbell County: Brookville High, Brookville Middle, Leesville Rd Elementary, Tomahawk Elementary, Fray Educational Center, Rustburg Elementary, Rustburg Middle, Rustburg High, School Board Office, Campbell County Tech Center, Yellow Branch Elementary, Brookneal Elementary, William Campbell Combined, Altavista Elementary, Altavista Combined, Gladys Elementary, Concord Elementary.
Cumberland County: School Board Office, Adult Education Center, Cumberland Elementary, Cumberland High & Middle.
Franklin County: Boones Mill Elementary, Burnt Chimney Elementary, Center For Applied Technology, School Board Office, Rocky Mount Elementary, Franklin County High, Lee Wade Elementary, Glade Hill Elementary, Ferrum Elementary, Ben Franklin Middle East, Ben Franklin Middle West, Callaway Elementary, Snow Creek School, Sontag School, Dudley Elementary, Henry Elementary.
Henry County: Axton Elementary, Carver Elementary, John D Bassett High, Campbell Court Elementary, Stanleytown Elementary, John-Redd Smith Elementary, Collinsville Primary, Drewery Mason Elementary, Magna Vista High, Rich Acres Elementary, Sanville Elementary, Irisburg Elementary, Mount Olivet Elementary, Fieldale Collinsville Middle, Laurel Park Middle, Henry County Admin.
Pittsylvania County: Brosville Elementary, Chatham Elementary, Gretna Elementary, John L Hurt Jr. Elementary, Mount Airy Elementary, Southside Elementary, Stony Mill Elementary, Tunstall Middle, Tunstall High, Twin Springs Elementary, Union Hall Elementary, Chatham High.
Prince Edward County: School Board Office, Prince Edward Elementary, Prince Edward Middle, Prince Edward High.
By expanding broadband access in these underserved parts of Virginia, we can usher in 21st century opportunities for jobs, innovation, and economic growth. I’m thrilled the stimulus funds will help improve education in our small towns and rural communities, and build up our region's competitive advantage. This will also improve telework opportunities and quality of life as we lay the groundwork for more consumers are able to get affordable broadband service where they live.
Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may call 1-888-4-TOM4US (1-888-486-6487); write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; or visit www.perriello.house.gov to sign up for my weekly e-newsletter.