Baker said a meeting last week between city officials, Superintendent Matt Akin and the Internet provider resulted in having the Internet connection restored for at least one month. He told council members Tuesday that whether the system continues to provide at-home Internet service to students may depend on whether the city decides to help pay for it.
“We don’t have the jobs here, we don’t have the factories,” Baker said. “The thing we can give them here is a good education.”
An attempt to reach Akin was unsuccessful late Tuesday.
Piedmont schools began providing at-home Internet service to students last year with help from a federal grant, which required that the schools pay just 20 percent of the cost. The city agreed to make monthly a $6,250 payment to help cover the local share of the expense, but unexpectedly stopped making the payment last fall.
When the grant ran out in the spring, the schools had to discontinue the service to students. Akin has said that was, in part, because the schools lost city funding.
Now, Baker said the city will have to decide whether it wants to restore a monthly $6,250 payment to the schools in order to keep the service going for students.
Funding for the payment is generated by the school’s Internet provider, which pays the city to use city-owned cables to send the Internet signals.
Baker said he supports giving the city schools the $6,250 to help keep the service going. Another council member, Frank Cobb, said he too supports restoring the payment as long as it is paid for with pass-through funds from the Internet provider and the cost doesn’t exceed $6,250.
Cobb said the financially strapped city, which also pays bond debt for the schools, can’t afford to do much more than that.
Akin said earlier this summer that service is critical for the success of the system’s technology initiative, which has been recognized on a national scale.
The city could not make a decision during the work session, during which it is legally barred from taking official action. It could, however, make a decision about the matter at a formal meeting next month.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.