$7 Million in Grants Brings Broadband to Ukiah School District

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From left: IMESD IT employees Jen Thul, Nick Lapp and Melinda Miller went the extra mile for the Ukiah SD fiber project. ({Photo courtesy IMESD)

Students in the small, rural Ukiah School District will be getting better broadband access in the near future.

Two grants totaling $7 million will bring much-needed fiber connectivity from Pendleton to the Ukiah area. 90 percent percent of the funding came from E-Rate and 10 percent came from Oregon Department of Education funds received from the federal government.

E-Rate is a Federal Communications Commission program that makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries in the United States.

The InterMountain Education Service District’s (IMESD) Information Technology (IT) department and E-Rate program partnered with the Ukiah School District to make the grants and project possible.

“This is a huge, amazing win for students in our district who will have strong, reliable Internet connection for schoolwork and so much more,” said Jim Reger, superintendent of the Ukiah School District. “We so appreciate the dedication and hard work by IT staff at IMESD to help bring this opportunity to fruition.”

At Ukiah School District’s school board meeting in September, three IT employees were recognized for their efforts in helping the district reach this accomplishment. They are Nick Lapp, Melinda Miller and Jen Thul. Cheri Rhinhart, IMESD’s Chief Information Officer, said this project aligns well with IMESD’s vision to ensure the success of every child. “This amazing group of IT employees has invested much over the last three years by writing letters, processing E-rate special construction applications, crafting RFPs, applying for grants and more. Because of their dedicated work, the Ukiah School District will soon have high-speed internet. Students in this rural and remote school will enjoy reliable access to online learning opportunities previously denied them because of very limited internet access. Nick Lapp, Melinda Miller and Jen Thul have been absolutely incredible,” Rhinhart said.

The fiber project will take approximately one year to complete.

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