Washington connects all public schools

Washington has completed a high-speed Internet network connecting all public

schools — from kindergarten through graduate school.

The Department of Information Services (DIS) finished connecting the state's

296 public school districts earlier this year. The network was established

by the legislature in 1996, and debuted a year later when the state's public

colleges were connected.

The state spent $54.8 million to build the network using state and private-sector

infrastructure. The project was $6.6 million under budget.

The network allows hearing-impaired children to read and write using

videoconferencing, high school students to take classes online to prepare

for college, and community college graduates to earn a business degree online.

DIS spokesperson Eric Campbell said the department plans to expand the network.

However, the next phase established by the legislature, connecting all public

libraries to the network, will not begin until next year because no money

has been appropriated yet, he said. The department also intends to connect

private colleges.

After the schools are connected to the network, they are responsible for

providing hardware, software and any other equipment necessary to use the

network.

The K-20 Network won a networking award last year from the National

Association of State Information Resource Executives.

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