Change display time — Currently: Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) (Event time)

Funding Rural School Connectivity: A Multi-pronged Approach

Colorado Convention Center, 603

Listen and learn: Edtalk
Recorded Session
Save to My Favorites


Director of Government Affairs
Learning Technology Center of Illinois
Melinda Fiscus is the Director of Government Affairs for the Learning Technology Center of Illinois. In this role, she provides networking opportunities, consulting services, and professional development for IL school districts. She also serves as one of the IL State E-Rate Coordinators. Melinda is passionate about advocacy and believes in the power of organizational partnerships. She also serves as one of the Illinois representatives and board Chair of SETDA and is a founding member of the IL K12 Classroom Connectivity Project. Melinda is in her 25th year working to advance educational technology in IL.
Technology Director
Trico Community School District # 176
As the Network Administrator for Trico CUSD 176 and a member of the Illinois Education and Technology Conference tech team, I've dedicated over a decade to educational technology leadership. Passionate about innovative problem-solving, I thrive on crafting creative solutions even on limited budgets. Networking is my forte, constantly seeking new ideas and strategies to enhance my IT toolbox. Beyond technology, my background as a pilot and flight instructor, along with over 20 years of running an after-hours computer company, provides a unique perspective and practical knowledge. I'm committed to empowering educators and businesses alike through the effective integration of technology.

Session description

Supporting learning for all students in the digital age is a never-ending task, especially when the rural school district footprint covers three counties and 240 square miles. Trico School District 176 in southern Illinois leverages every funding opportunity to make anywhere, everywhere learning a reality.

Purpose & objective

Participants will learn about one district’s efforts to provide universal access to technology and the internet throughout their communities. They will discover how planning, communication, and flexibility can be used time and again to achieve their goals. Multiple funding sources will be shared, and the practice of braiding funding will be explained in a way that can be easily understood, shared, and duplicated in their own districts.

More [+]


Introductions (5 min)
Information about presenters, Trico CUSD #176 and the Learning Technology Center of Illinois (introduction of shared notes for session)

Needs and active solutions (10 min)
Impact of the pandemic and realization of needs (interactive needs quiz activity)
Administrative support and the importance of strategic planning and implementation
The importance of partnership and collaboration
Parents as co-teachers and community buy-in

Leveraging current resources (10 min)
Expansion of internet to multiple communities
Leveraging E-Rate for on-campus improvements (audience brainstorming)
The benefits of ECF and planning for the future

Looking towards the future (10 min)
The Affordable Connectivity Program and outreach
Leveraging federal and state funds to the fullest extent (think-pair-share)
Sharing the story and spreading the wealth of knowledge

Q&A (5 min)

More [+]

Supporting research

How High-Speed Fiber Broadband Benefits Public Education ('s%20Benefits%20for%20Education&text=This%20means%20that%20more%20students,research%20for%20more%20significant%20projects)
Funding Opportunities: NTIA Broadband (
USAC E-Rate Program (
SETDA Broadband Imperative (
Office of Ed Tech - US Department of Education (
Future Ready Schools - All4Ed (

More [+]

Session specifications

Technology infrastructure & connectivity
Grade level:
Skill level:
Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Principals/head teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
ISTE Standards:
For Education Leaders:
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
  • Ensure all students have access to the technology and connectivity necessary to participate in authentic and engaging learning opportunities.
Empowering Leader
  • Support educators in using technology to advance learning that meets the diverse learning, cultural, and social-emotional needs of individual students.
Systems Designer
  • Lead teams to collaboratively establish robust infrastructure and systems needed to implement the strategic plan.