“Connectivity is a real problem on the shore”: Over $100K will go to Wicomico and Talbot County Schools for broadband access

MARYLAND–Broadband access has been an ongoing issue for students and schools who’ve switched to virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Connectivity is a real problem on the shore, I’ll be honest with you, we had about 800 students that received a packet in the mail in the spring,” Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools, said.

Governor Larry Hogan is now looking to address the issue with a new grant.

The Governor announced Thursday that $10 million in grant money will be awarded to 21 jurisdictions, in the hopes of expanding broadband access for education.

Talbot and Wicomico are just two of the counties that will be benefiting from the grant, receiving over $100,000 dollars each.

“That $100,000 will go very quickly, but it goes to devices, it goes to set up and hook up, it also goes into some cameras, and it also goes to paying that monthly fee,” Griffith said.

Wicomico’s Superintendent said they will also be using the money for things like devices and hot spots.

“A lot of it will go towards technology, we’re able to implement a one to one student to device ratio,” Dr. Donna Hanlin, Superintendent of Wicomico County, said.

The superintendent for Talbot county schools said this money is crucial as they were already spending a pretty penny on devices.

“We spend a good almost, more than a quarter million dollars on devices in a small system of 47-hundred kids,” Griffith said.

But while education leaders said receiving this grant money will help, Superintendent Griffith admits she’s worried about sustainability.

She said if state funding gets cut in order to help with these grants significant changes, like cutting staff, might need to happen.

“We may have to make some real serious decisions on how we are going to be able to make those cuts, and unfortunately in a business where you’re a people business it might be people.” Griffith said.

Categories: Local News, Maryland