Change in federal programs freezes aid to Oklahoma schools - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Change in federal programs freezes aid to Oklahoma schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A change in federal accounting methods could delay technology payments and discounts totaling about $30 million to Oklahoma schools, officials said Tuesday.

E-Rate, the federal program that provides discounted phone and Internet service to schools and libraries, has been forced to freeze new spending.

But school officials say the it shouldn't affect operations.

In Oklahoma, schools that have secured E-Rate money or discounts for the current year could see delays in payments while changes are being made to federal accounting programs.

The Federal Communications Commission has required E-Rate to have enough cash up front to cover the cost of any new commitments as part of a push to improve financial oversight of the program, which has faced cases of fraud and abuse.

The $2.25 billion-a-year program is credited with getting high-speed Internet access to people in poor and remote locations.

Todd Stogner, spokesman for Oklahoma City Public Schools, said his district has received a commitment of $8.8 million in federal E-Rate money for this year.

Stogner said payment delays this year shouldn't cause the district any major problems.

Phil Applegate, executive director of instructional technology at the state Education Department, said Oklahoma averages about $30 million in E-Rate discounts each year.

"I'm very optimistic they'll get this resolved," he said.
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