Bill would give rural Illinois schools high-speed internet

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ A proposed bill would give more than 90,000 students across 100 districts in rural Illinois access to high-speed internet.

In Springfield, The State Journal-Register reports that Democratic Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, Republican Sen. Sam McCann of Plainview and Democratic Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant of Shorewood are sponsoring the legislation.

Manar says the measure would be a one-time expense that would bridge the digital divide that puts many rural schools at a disadvantage. Schools that lack access to high-speed internet can’t stream educational videos, use online testing or offer remote learning.

Building the fiber optic infrastructure is estimated to cost $75,000 to $420,000 per school.

The legislation would set aside more than $16 million in state funds from the upcoming budget. It could gain as much as $50 million in matching funds from the federal government.