Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Urgent: Bentonville short of money. Send them cash for broadband

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 3:12 PM

POOR OL' BENTONVILLE HIGH: Short of cash in Waltonlandia.
  • POOR OL' BENTONVILLE HIGH: Short of cash in Waltonlandia.

A friend with an admitted vested interest in the great state broadband fight serves up a tasty little acorn nonetheless.

I've written that Walton money is financing the effort to overturn a state law that protects telecom companies from state competition on providing network broadband service to public schools.

The Walton-financed coalition, FASTERArkansas, hides its spending behind the 501c4 structure that has become so popular in stealth political campaigns. But it is high dollar. A Little Rock consulting firm. Website. Extensive lobbying. Legislative appearances. And so forth. The telephone companies may not have the wealth of the Waltons, but don't get me wrong:  They have plenty of dough, too. And I still lean FASTERArkansas in this debate.

But get a load of this:

FASTERArkanas tells here the sad story of the financial shorts at Bentonville High School, in the shadow of the empire that created all that Walton wealth. Because it is an affluent school district, it qualifies for less categorical broadband support money.

Bandwidth is a challenge for us at Bentonville just as it is for most Arkansas districts. As a semi-urban district with a well-developed local Telco infrastructure, our challenges are a bit different than for many rural schools. The biggest limiting factor for us is cost, and restrictions on the amount of grant funding we are able to access.

...We have spent an enormous amount on infrastructure already so we’re limited in what we can allocate to extra monthly charges for the additional bandwidth we need at this time. It would be great if the state could help in a more meaningful way.

Poor old Bentonville. But wait .....

Isn't that the school with the rich and huge football coaching staff? A $9 million football stadium? The new $240,000 scoreboard? The $800,000 worth of new football field turf?

Yup, that's them.

Maybe Bentonville should just ask the Waltons to do what they do whenever a charter school pops up to drain better students from the Little Rock School District — write a check to cover their shorts. But no, in Bentonville, they expect everyone else to chip in.

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