- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Federal officials continue to withhold $14 million worth of payments for Idaho’s education broadband program. If the money isn’t restored soon, state lawmakers will be asked to fork over another multimillion dollar bailout when they convene in January for the 2015 Legislature.

The Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/WTH8oA) reports that the federal agency that had agreed to provide three-fourths of the network funding cut off the payments after launching an investigation over a disputed contract with one of the Idaho high school broadband project’s vendors.

To keep the program afloat, Idaho lawmakers agreed to provide an $11.4 million bailout, but that amount only covered the costs until February.

State schools chief Tom Luna sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission in May, July and August. But neither the agency nor its program manager, Universal Service Administrative Co., has said if or when the funds will be restored.

“The matter is still under review,” said Johnnay D. Schrieber, Universal Service Administrative Co. general counsel.

If federal payments don’t return by the time lawmakers gather in Boise for the next legislative session, state lawmakers will be asked for an additional $2.4 million to cover the program until June, which is the end of the state fiscal year.

More than 200 high schools are part of the broadband program known as the Idaho Education Network. The program allows schools to participate in video teleconferencing, which then sets up teachers to offer classes to students across the state and increase the amount of dual-credit classes students can take to prepare for college.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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