The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) and has allowed Gov. Eric Holcomb to provide support to local education institutions to develop and improve the availability of distance/remote learning techniques and technologies. GEER program objectives are to address the urgent need for access to digital learning, devices to support distance/remote learning for students in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 and develop comprehensive community-level and regional-level solutions to address gaps in internet connectivity. The grant is also designed to support partnerships between higher education and Pre-K to 12 to develop professional development and curriculum opportunities to build expertise in distance/remote learning.

A combined grant proposal to receive funds from the GEER Program from both the Delphi Community School Corporation (DCSC) and the Carroll Consolidated School Corporation (CCSC) for more than $500,000 was successful. According to DCSC Superintendent Dan Ronk, equipment for the schools and to develop eLearning Zones will be provided by the grant. A total of $260,700 was requested for the eLearning Zones, which includes areas in Camden, Flora and Delphi.

Both corporations will extend broadband access to their parking lots to increase Internet access for families. Buses will be used for mobile hotspots in remote areas of the county. In addition, the school corporations are partnering with the Rural Innovation Network (RIN) for data infrastructure. RIN is a non-profit organization with a physical location in Camden and a leased space in Delphi. RIN, owned by Neil Mylet, will provide physical space for a server in Camden and will aid in the installation of physical infrastructure within the community to provide enhanced Internet access.

Mylet told the Comet last week, RIN will fill in the connectivity gap in a large part of the county by attaching connectivity hardware to current towers in various areas of the county and will run fiber-optic to help boost Internet speeds at current locations plus designated zones. Satellites will be used in the future for enhanced access to more remote areas of the county.

Mylet said, although the entire program is not installed, he has tested a zone in Delphi to assess the success of the infrastructure. He said the focus is on students and each student will receive a login to a program for which the grant will pay. According to the grant proposal, hotspots will be provided to homes, with a potential buy-in by parents, sim cards will be used, microphones and webcams along with a subscription for software to provide the services will be purchased by both school corporations. Mylet said depending on the technology deployed by RIN, enhanced Internet could be realized for five miles from the point of initiation of the Internet access site.

It is expected fiber-optic service will be in place in Camden by November of this year. There is already fiber-optic service in Delphi at the building occupied by the County Chamber of Commerce and the Delphi City Building. Public parks, libraries, the Carroll County Fairgrounds and multi-housing units are also on the planning board to receive enhanced connectivity.

The grant calls for software to be obtained to track students’ success by race, ethnicity, special education and homeless student groups. Which students are engaged and when they are engaged, which students are completing eLessons and the progress of students meeting next grade level or college/career ready learning goals will also be tracked.

Mylet is a Carroll County resident who graduated from CCSC in 2004 and from Purdue University with a degree in Agricultural Economics in 2008. His parents are Tom and Linda Mylet, who farm near Camden, and Mylet works on his parents’ farm.
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