Inside This Issue
Executive Director
AT&T and Sprint Say Yes to Catholic Schools
E-Rate 2.0
Lunch Program - In or Out?
Summer Presentations
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Executive Director
Prayers at the Beginning of a New Academic Year


Pope Francis stated in the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, "If we wish to live a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good." All of the teachers, staff and administrators who will spend this year reaching out to each child and parent are in our thoughts and prayers at the opening of the school year. 


Associate Director of Public Policy


AT&T and Sprint Say Yes to Catholic Schools!


Thanks to those of   you who completed the online applications for ConnectED. Because of your applications and the joint letter writing campaign of USCCB/NCEA/CAPE, AT&T has agreed that all schools are eligible to participate in AT&T's contribution to the ConnectED initiative. This is a huge win! I received the good news last week in a phone call from Charles Herggott, AT&T's Associate VP of Education Leadership. After acknowledging receipt of our letters and your applications, he committed to revise the wording on the website to make it crystal clear that our schools are invited to participate. Thank you to those who took the time to apply-AT&T heard you loud and clear. 

Mr. Herggott also shared that AT&T would be doing 3 separate deployments of the $100 million in mobile broadband services. The next window will be in October and will constitute the bulk of awards. AT&T's selection process for its $100 million commitment is being administered by Connected Nation. If you haven't already applied, you can do so online at And if you already applied but did not receive a notice of award, please do so again. And keep us posted of any developments.


We also received a favorable letter response from Sprint. Sprint has agreed to provide free high-speed wireless broadband service to 50,000 students for 4 years to enable those students to do their homework and school projects while off school premises. Private schools that meet the eligibility criteria are invited to submit an application for Sprint's ConnectED service. Sprint's target beneficiaries are Title I schools and schools with a substantial percentage of students who qualify for free/reduced price lunch, in geographic areas where Sprint has deployed their state-of-the-art Sprint Spark service. A listing of the areas with existing Sprint Spark service can be found here: The Sprint application can be accessed at  


To date, we have received positive responses from 5 out of the 10 corporations with commitments to ConnectED (Apple, AT&T, Esri, Prezi, and Sprint). Let's see what we can do with the remaining 5 (Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft, O'Reilly Media, and Verizon).

E-Rate 2.0


Last month the FCC voted to modernize the E-Rate program. The modernization focuses on three main goals: (1) ensuring affordable access to high-speed broadband, (2) maximizing cost-effectiveness, and (3) simplifying the application process. Although the modernization details are not all that we hoped, the result is a great improvement over the initial proposal, thanks to the collective advocacy efforts of our EdLINC coalition over the last year. If you would prefer not to read the FCC's 176-page modernization order, I have two resources for you--my highlights below and a link to the 19-page FCC Staff Report dated August 12, 2014 at: 


E-Rate Order Highlights:

  • The FCC Order does not raise the funding cap, but does provide for a notice of further rulemaking to address long-term funding needs. Comments are due September 15th. USCCB is working with EdLINC and other organizations to file a joint response.

  • Priority One is now Category One (still basic connectivity). Priority Two is now Category Two (still internal connections).

  • The FCC identified savings through program changes to free up existing funds for an infusion of $2 billion over two years available for Category 2 Wi-Fi internal connections, with a target of $1 billion for an additional three years. The funding source for the last three years has not been identified. No money for Category Two will be funded until all Category One applications have been fulfilled.

  • There will be a 5-year phase out of all voice services, reducing them 20% per year. Legacy services, such as webhosting and pagers, will be completely eliminated effective SY 2015-16. During the phase out, you will need to cost allocate voice services with a separate funding request number/separate service designation on your Form 471.

  • For Category 2: the top discount rate has been lowered from 90% to 85%, and funding will be capped at a pre-discount level of $150 per student over five years, with a floor of no less than $9,200 over five years for small entities (schools and libraries). The intent is to spread available service funds more widely (get further down below the 90% discount rate) and increase incentive for applicants to find the most cost-effective option.

  • The discount rates are still based on NSLP Eligibility, but there are a few nuances to how that can be calculated: (1) Surveys can still be used, but the NSLP calculation can only be based on actual number of returned forms. Extrapolation is no longer permitted. (2) School Districts that use the Community Eligibility Option for NSLP, may use this count for E-Rate. (3) Actual participation in NSLP may be used. Discount percentages must be determined for districts as a whole, not by taking an average. 

Lunch Program-In or Out?


The rollout of regulations for the National School Lunch Program has met resistance from both public and private schools alike. These regulations, which include specific food requirements and restrictions, qualifications for lunch personnel, additional layers of paperwork and administration, implementation of the Community Eligibility Option, and wellness policies, have led to entire districts pulling out due to cost, waste, and decline in participation. According to the USDA, 1 million fewer students nationwide are eating federal school lunches since the new guidelines were enacted in 2012.  The decline is attributed to personal choice or because their schools have opted out of the lunch program altogether.  Members of Congress have reached out to us to provide them data on any of our Catholic schools that have pulled out of the program. If your (arch)diocese or school has opted out of the lunch program, please let me know when, why and any program costs or decline in participation numbers that factored into your decision that you are willing to share. 

Summer Presentations


July brought with it several travel opportunities to present at conferences. On July 9th, I spoke at the Equitable Services Institute at Notre Dame sponsored by ACE and Catapult Learning.   On July 11th, Luke Swanepoel and I spoke at the Eighth Midwest Catholic Education Advocates Conference hosted this year by Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference. The presentations at both conferences consisted of an overview of the federal public policy work that USCCB has done since Luke and I began work here last September. Both conferences provided a great opportunity to connect with you, the leaders in Catholic education.