(PRWEB) November 23, 2013
As the nation’s school districts budgets are reduced students born into a digital era struggle with basic skills. At a time with technology and its potential uses in schools is growing, the digital divide has increased. This digital divide extends beyond having computers in the classroom to the requirement of high-speed connections, mobile devices and newer software programs.
Investing in technology can reduce the digital divide by giving teachers the tolls to better engage students. As the Common Core standards, now approved in 45 states, final stage of implementation set for the 2014-15 academic year many schools students are not prepared for the computerized based standard tests. Access to technology and the funds to acquire it is an issue for large and small districts. The problem is that generally schools simply do not have sufficient budgets to acquire the technology which typically costs an average of $400 per student annually or $56 billion dollars.
There is a little known source of funds that can help meet some of the need schools have for technology. Using a low profile Federal program called Qualified Zone Academy Bonds or QZAB, school superintendents in North Carolina are considering including technology in their QZAB applications. QZAB is a NO INTEREST bond program with up to 25 years to pay back the principal. Nearly all states have millions of dollars still available in QZAB bonds, for instances:
At the start of 2013 there was a billion dollars in QZAB dollars which is designated for schools with low income students – at least 35% to be eligible. Approximately, 25% has been used which still leaves enough funds for many Urban and rural school administrators and board members to provide their students technology in preparation for the Common Core can access these funds.
QZAB has a requirement for a ten (10%) percent match partner before the QZAB bonds can be issued. The National Education Foundation (NEF) has solved that problem for schools by agreeing to provide this match for interested schools. NEF is also interested in partnering to meet another QZAB requirement – the establishment of a new educational program designed with the school’s partner to prepare students for the rigors of college and/or of the demanding workforce. NEF enables teachers and students in partner schools to have access to nearly 6000 online curriculum courses which schools may implement in flexible ways.
The Founder and Chairman of the Foundation, Dr. Appu Kuttan states, “We are most pleased to be able to help schools access QZAB funds to acquire technology within existing buildings. We want to close the digital divide.”
Technology budgets are important in closing the digital divide for the nation’s over 50 million K-12 students. QZAB is a funding vehicle that can fill in budget gaps for school technology.
Dr. Art Stellar, a former school superintendent and administrator in Oklahoma, Ohio and North Carolina, helps school superintendents apply for QZAB funds, he says: “QZAB funds are an excellent funding source for school superintendents to establish technology plans or make other renovations. They can also use QZAB funds for student achievement, equipment, and energy efficiency”.
In addition to the 10% match grant, NEF helps the school districts to create QZAB STEM+ academies capable of advancing a student one grade level in a subject in 20-30 learning hours in the NEF system, as documented by the State University of NY (SUNY), which implements the academies nationally with a grant from NEF.
Dr. Appu Kuttan, Chairman of the National Education Foundation (NEF), global expert in digital education and empowerment, and the recent University of Wisconsin Distinguished Achievement Award winner, states, "School districts across the Nation are faced with serious budget cuts. Our $100 million match program enables schools to receive Federal QZAB funds” (http://www.qzab.org).
To apply for a 10% QZAB match, visit http://www.qzab.org.
National Education Foundation (NEF), founded in 1989 in Washington, DC area, is the national non-profit leader in bridging the academic and job skills divides through high-quality, affordable STEM+ education solutions. NEF provides total STEM+ education solutions including 6,000 top-quality Web-based differentiated learning courses, mentoring, motivational rewards, teacher stipends and teacher training to disadvantaged school districts across the nation.