News Release
Release No.STELPRD4017642
ContactVicki Schurman402-437-5563
(AUGUST 3, 2012) USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROVIDES FUNDS TO EDUCATIONAL SERVICE UNIT #17 TO FURTHER DISTANCE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Ainsworth, Nebraska, Aug 03, 2012 --

@@Educational Service Unit (ESU) #17 in Ainsworth, Nebraska received recognition today of the distance learning funding of $180,000 awarded from USDA Rural Development. Nebraska State Director for USDA Rural Development Maxine Moul and staff presented a plaque to the ESU staff.

The funds will be used by ESU #17 to purchase video conferencing equipment for 21 public schools in Brown, Cherry, Keya Paha and Rock counties of North Central Nebraska. Grant funds also will purchase the central control equipment that manages the video connections, the content capture and streaming, and video bridging. The classes held over the system will include regular high school classes, college and dual credit, agriculture and agri-business classes and seminars, and specialty classes that are conducted in conjunction with rural attendance centers.

“Distance learning is especially important to the rural areas of the state, giving rural residents the opportunities that urban areas can offer,” said Moul.

“Distance learning classes are an integral part of the educational practices of our school systems. The equipment from this grant will allow the students in the ESU 17 schools to extend their reach in the selection of high school and college level classes,” said Administrator Dennis Radford, Educational Service Unit 17.

As part of the presentation, ESU 17 staff demonstrated the video bridging equipment and desktop videoconferencing software that will be implemented by the schools as a result of this grant award. Implementation is planned for the 2012-13 school year.

The 2012 grant award is the second USDA Rural Development grant for ESU #17. In 2007 ESU 17 and ESU 7 in Columbus, NE submitted a joint grant application on behalf of their schools and received a $500,000 USDA RUS grant. The grant provided funds for updating control equipment, cameras, audio equipment, monitors and codecs in the schools’ distance learning classrooms.

Additionally, distance learning grants were recently awarded to Educational Service Unit 16 of Ogallala, NE, Mid‐Plains Community College of North Platte, NE, and Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation of Kearney, NE.

For more information on the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program in Nebraska contact Andre Boening at 402-652-3446 or andre.boening@wdc.usda.gov.