New Mexico has nearly completed its initiative to connect all public schools to high-speed internet service.

Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham recently helped break ground on a broadband project that will connect the Midway and San Antonio Elementary Schools to improved internet services. Completion of the project will provide high-speed and affordable internet to two of the four schools in New Mexico still without reliable broadband service, her office said.

“We are so close to seeing every public school in New Mexico connected to high-quality and high-speed internet,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Access to internet has real impacts on the quality of education that modern students receive, and this is a major step forward in bridging the digital – and educational – divide.”

The project is being led by Western New Mexico Communications and uses funding from the Federal E-rate program. In addition to Federal funding, the state is also providing $62,000 for the project. Once the connections are completed an additional 200 students will have access to high-speed internet.

“These projects allow us to chip away at the digital divide that has plagued New Mexico over the years. This is a quality-of-life issue and our mission from the governor is clear,” said Office of Broadband Director Kelly Schlegel. “We are wholly dedicated to ensuring that underserved and unserved communities have the resources necessary to realize reliable and affordable high-speed internet for all.”

The school district has been attempting to upgrade its internet system to meet current industry standards for nearly a decade. The governor’s office noted that in the meantime, increased usage of online platforms and digitization of learning materials far outpaced the capabilities of the older wireless internet infrastructure.

“It’s a team effort, and we appreciate the district personnel who keep persevering,” said Jeffrey Tull, technology director at Socorro Consolidated Schools. “We thank the governor and her Office of Broadband Access and Expansion, the Western New Mexico Communications team, and most importantly, the teachers who have continually struggled with the challenges of intermittent connectivity and found ways to overcome them.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs