FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the Network Connectivity Infrastructure Grants?
In June 2014, recognizing the need for adequate infrastructure to support California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) computer-based assessments, the Legislature allocated $26,689,000 of one-time Proposition 98 General Fund to support network connectivity infrastructure grants and completion of a statewide report of network connectivity infrastructure by the K-12 High Speed Network (K12HSN)  in consultation with the Department of Education and State Board of Education.       

Network connectivity infrastructure grants will be distributed by the K-12 High Speed Network, in consultation with the Department of Education and State Board of Education, to help school districts and charter schools with the greatest infrastructure needs.

What is the goal of the network connectivity infrastructure grants?
The purpose of the network connectivity infrastructure grant program is to assist school districts and charter schools in acquiring adequate network connectivity infrastructure to support the implementation of the CAASPP computer-based assessments in 2014-15.

The network connectivity infrastructure grants will fund projects critical for the implementation of the 2014-15 computer-based assessments.

First priority for critical need grants will go to local educational agencies that are unable to administer CAASPP computer-based assessments on-site and have limited or no options to improve their connectivity due to a  lack of broadband infrastructure or are located in hard-to-serve areas with a lack of service offerings from commercial  providers.

These grants take priority over all other network connectivity infrastructure grants. As a condition of receiving grant funding, all local educational agencies commit to supporting the ongoing costs associated with improved Internet infrastructure.  For additional details please see the chart below.

Which educational entities are eligible to apply?
Public school districts, county offices of education and direct funded charter schools are eligible to apply for network connectivity infrastructure grants. Private schools are not eligible.

Sites Eligible to Receive Services from BIIG

On January 7, 2015, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 227 school sites will share nearly $27 million in Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grants (BIIG) to help schools enhance their network connectivity so they can successfully administer the state’s new online computer adaptive assessments.


Next Steps for Sites Eligible to Receive Services from BIIG:

  • K12HSN will contact all sites eligible to receive services from BIIG and provide them a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) so they may review the terms and conditions for receiving service. This includes an estimate of ongoing monthly costs to implement the enhanced connection.
  • School districts shall proceed through their agreement authorization process to sign the MOU.
  • School districts will have until January 23, 2015 to return the signed MOU.
  • K12HSN and CENIC will begin the execution of contracts with Service Providers and begin the implementation process.

For further questions or comments regarding the BIIG process, please contact us at: (760) 312-6227 or biig@lists.k12hsn.org.

Archives:

How can public school districts, county offices of education and direct funded charter schools apply for the Broadband Infrastructure Grant?
All the sites wishing to apply for the BIIG grant, including the sites on the School Site Eligibility List (SSEL) -- needed to fill out a Self-Nomination / Site Information Form by September 30, 2014 to be considered for funding. Sites listed on the School Site Eligibility List also needed to fill out a Self-Nomination / Site Information form to be considered for funding.

Here are some Self-Nomination Step-By-Step Instructions school sites could use to fill out the Self-Nomination / Site Information Form.


My school was moved to Full Validation, what are the next steps?
To complete the full validation step, sites had to log back into FluidReview, our online grant application system. In addition to completing the BIIG Full Validation form,  school districts were required to upload a signed Letter of Agency (LOA). This will allow the K12HSN to procure Internet services on behalf of your school site.

For the BIIG Full Validation process to be considered complete, the LOA had to be uploaded to the system by October 10, 2014.

The information obtained during the full validation will be used as part of the scoring and ranking process.

A County Office of Education or a representative from K12HSN is currently reviewing applications to make sure the BIIG Full validation form is complete and accurate.

The presentation used during the BIIG Validation Webinar for Applicants held on Monday, September 22 is available on our Webinar Archive page.
 

We are filling out the Letter of Agency. Where can we find our FCC number?
If you need to look up your FCC number (or FRN number) visit the FCC website.
Click "Search for public FRN information"
In the drop down list, select "Business Name"
Type the first word of your school name and add an * then hit the Search button.
You will then be able to find your school name in the list.

What is the role of COEs in the Full Validation stage?
County Offices of Education will be assigned as Validation Form reviewers for applications that have been submitted within their County, unless they have an E-rate SPIN.

What if our COE has an E-rate SPIN?
If a County Office of Education has an active E-rate Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN), it will not be able to participate in the validation/review process and a separate reviewer will be assigned to the BIIG Grant applications from that County.  K12HSN staff is in the process of assigning a reviewer to each application that is ready to complete the Full Validation form.

How will schools with limited resources handle ongoing costs?
The BIIG program will only provide one time grant funds to help the sites get connected.

Grant will pay for installation and first few months of ongoing costs until the contractual obligations have been transferred. Then there will be a hand-off period, ongoing costs will then be superseded to the school district. We will be going through a formal procurement process, and will leverage federal and state funding such as e-rate and CTF funds. We will make sure we get the ongoing costs are as low as possible.

What if an LEA doesn’t afford ongoing costs?
If an LEA cannot afford the ongoing costs, the LEA will have to decide if they decline the grant opportunity.

If the LEA signs the LOA, which impact will it have on current E-rate application already has submitted by the LEA?
We only intend to use the LOA for the affected sites, we do not anticipate any overlap. It’ll be important to ensure there is a coordinated effort with the district to ensure we’re not doing any duplicate requests.

Can schools offset some of the cost recently incurred to address their infrastructure issues?
Unfortunately, since the work is done and bills have been paid, grant funds cannot be used to offset those costs.

When and how will funds be disbursed?
Schools will not receive any funds. They will receive the benefits of the grant in form of services but no funds. The solutions will be procured on behalf of the awarded schools.

Is there a specific amount per eligible sites?
No. The grant will be based on needs. The grant will pay for one-time costs, construction costs, and equipment such as routers, switches, fiber-optic modules, as well as enhancements at the district office if needed.

Our site has adequate bandwidth, why was it added to the School Site Eligibility List (SSEL)?
Sites were placed on the School Site Eligibility List mainly based on feedback from the County Offices of Education or feedback received from the 2014 field test experience. Not all of the sites on the SSEL will be considered for funding. Sites on the SSEL needed to fill out a Self-Nomination / Site Information form by September 30, 2014 to be considered for funding.

Are there any caps on the funds?
The broadband infrastructure grants have no caps. The broadband infrastructure grant amounts will be established based on amounts required to address existing issues.

Are matching funds required?
The network connectivity infrastructure grants do not require matching funds with regard to the initial expenses. In order to receive funding the local educational agency will be required to commit to supporting the ongoing costs associated with the improved Internet infrastructure.      

Can funding be used to connect a District Office?
The intent of the funding is to support school sites in obtaining adequate bandwidth to complete the CAASPP computer-based assessments without technical limitations that inhibit critical day-to-day operations and business services. Funding may be used to support connection at a district office only if that connection is used as a central point to provide access to schools.  In many districts, there is a single connection feeding the district office and multiple connections feeding each of the schools sites.  In this example, funding could be used to support that single connection to the district office in order to support the connected schools.

How will funds be awarded?
Grant funds will be prioritized and awarded based upon established criteria developed by California Department of Education (CDE), State Board of Education (SBE) and K12HSN with input from other statewide organizations. If insufficient funds are available to award all applications that receive a qualifying score, a priority ranking will be applied until all funds are exhausted.  Grant funds will be prioritized to last mile network connectivity infrastructure to school sites that fall under the first priority for critical need. Note however that LEAs will not receive any funds. They will receive services but no funds. The solution will be procured for the schools.

What support can a potential applicant receive from their County Office of Education?
The K12HSN has sought the support of County Offices of Education in this endeavor. County Office of Education plays the following roles (unless they have an E-rate SPIN number):

  • Assist with identifying school sites that fall under the first priority of need.

  • Provide assistance to LEAs that plan to apply for grant funds through the application process.

  • Assist K12HSN with the validation process for information submitted by LEAs.

  • Collaborate with K12HSN, CENIC and  commercial carriers to explore suitable options for LEAs with sites in need.

Apart from the County Office of Education, are there any other sources of support or assistance if a school district or direct funded charter school has questions?
The K12HSN staff held several webinars to provide information to potential applicants. The presentations used during the webinars are available on our Webinar Archive page.

Interested entities may also contact the K12HSN staff for support either by phoning (760) 312-6227 or by contacting biig@lists.k12hsn.org.

Who will assist the school site in planning and designing the improved Internet capacity?
The process to identify, design and engineer an improved connection to the school site will involve several organizations to include: the school district, the County Office of Education, Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC),  commercial service providers and K12HSN.  Technical staff from these organizations would work together to identify efficient solutions in connecting the school site to existing infrastructure such as the California Research and Education Network (CalREN).

Self-Nomination Process

If I look on the School Site Eligibility List and discover my site is not included and I believe it should be, what is my next step?

On September 2, 2014, K12HSN released a School Site Eligibility List (SSEL). If your site was not listed and you believe it should have been, you had to complete a simple Self-nomination / Site Information form by September 30, 2014. This step was required for an institution (school district, direct-funded charter, or county office of education) to nominate a site that experienced the hardship described above in implementing CAASPP computer adaptive testing. One nomination form needed to be completed for each site the entity wished to be considered for funding. Once you had submitted, you received an auto-generated email confirming receipt of the self-nomination form. Sites that met the BIIG eligibility criteria were contacted for subsequent validation steps in the same process as other sites on the SSEL.

If I look on the School Site Eligibility List and discover my site is currently on the SSEL, what is my next step?
Each site listed on the School Site Eligibility List (SSEL) was required to go through a pre-validation process. Sites could do so by completing a Self-Nomination / Site Information form by September 30, 2014.

* Please note

Self-nominated sites that meet eligibility requirements and sites initially included in the SSEL went through the same validation process to ensure they do not have sufficient network capacity to implement testing in the Spring of 2015. This 1st step helped us capture basic site information. Once this step was completed, and if your site met our eligibility requirements, it moved to the validation round.


Our school site has adequate capacity to the Internet to conduct the assessment but lacks the necessary network infrastructure inside the school to have a reliable connection. Does this site qualify for the available funds under this grant?
If the school site currently has adequate capacity to the Internet, the site is not eligible for the funds under this grant.  The funds are prioritizing support to sites with a need to improve their Internet connection (i.e. the last mile) and have limited or no options to improve their connectivity.  Schools may use other funding sources to support upgrading their internal network such as the one-time Common Core block grant, Microsoft Voucher dollars or leverage the E-rate program.

 

Our school site currently has an Internet capacity expansion project underway although there is no clarity if the project will be completed before the next assessment cycle. Does this site qualify for the available funds under this grant?
If the school site currently does not have adequate capacity for the CAASPP computer-based assessment as mentioned in scenarios for priority 1 or priority 2, the site may be considered in the process. This will allow the LEA, County Office of Education, CENIC and the commercial service providers to engage with the existing planned solution and determine if there are opportunities to remove possible barriers thereby improving connectivity at the site.


Other Technical Requirements

LEAs must be a member of the K12HSN E-rate consortium.  How does a district become a member of the K12HSN E-rate consortium?
LEAs can become members of the K12HSN E-rate consortium by submitting a Letter of Agency (LOA) to the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) before or concurrently with submission of the grant proposal.  LOAs shall be valid from the date of signature until at least June 30, 2016.