A grant from the telecommunication company Qwest will help 175 students in high schools connected to Idaho’s broadband network take classes from the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) in Twin Falls. The 175 students can take a dual-credit course, where they will earn both college and high school credits, through courses taken using the Idaho Education Network (IEN), which provides high-speed Internet access and more course options to public schools.
Qwest is the main bandwidth provider for IEN, and its foundation donated $25,000 to CSI. Using IEN, the students are able to take live, interactive courses at colleges or other high schools that offer a wider curriculum. “My thanks to Qwest, CSI, and all the educators, administrators and education supporters involved for helping to make the IEN a reality,” Gov. Butch Otter said in a news release. “This is a great partnership and a great investment in Idaho’s future that will be paying dividends for many years to come.”
Most of IEN’s funding for the next two years will come from a $6 million grant from the Albertsons Foundation. Long-term funding for IEN, oversight for the network, and the awarding of a contract to Qwest were contentious issues during the legislative session earlier this year. Lawmakers ultimately approved continuing with IEN’s rollout into high schools, though they changed the makeup and reporting requirements for the board monitoring IEN, the Idaho Education Network Program and Resources Advisory Council (IPRAC). IPRAC will now have more of its members chosen by lawmakers and the superintendent of public instruction, rather than the governor’s department of administration director.
“The Idaho Education Network allows students from all parts of Idaho to benefit from the educational opportunities offered anywhere in the state,” Jim Schmit, Qwest Idaho’s president. “Qwest is very pleased to help bring that benefit to more students.”
Curtis Eaton, the executive director of the CSI Foundation, said the grant will help the community college expand its program offering dual credits to high schoolers. “Dual credit is a valuable tool for any young person planning to go to college,” Eaton said. “It gets them engaged in higher education early and gives them a head start on accomplishing their goals.”