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Brownback Announces High-Speed Internet Effort

Associated Press - November 29, 2016 3:30 pm

A top Democratic lawmaker says he is joining the crowded race to replace Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita announced his candidacy Saturday. He had named former Democratic Party chairman Lee Kinch as his campaign treasurer earlier this week.

Kansas officials have announced a two-year initiative to spread high-speed internet to school districts across the state at a cost of up to $100 million.

Gov. Sam Brownback says the state might have to allocate as much as $10 million toward the program, which supporters say could help mitigate a teacher shortage in some rural areas. He says the money would come from the Universal Service Fund.

The governor says the California-based nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is providing technical expertise at no cost to the state. The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/2gCDQV2 ) reports the group’s CEO says as many as 20 percent of the state’s school districts may need upgrading.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson says greater connectivity will help “level the playing field” between rural students and suburban and urban students.