A new report shows the state is saving more than a million dollars in internet service to schools after districts were forced to negotiate their own contracts.

No district shows that better than Fruitland, which saved more than ninety-five percent. Under the IEN, the district was paying a monthly fee of $68 per megabit. Now, they pay $1 a megabit.

Superintendent Teresa Fabricius says it’s a result of negotiating direclty with the local ISP, Farmers Mutual Telephone Company.

“They are very very responsive to the school district,” she said. “They know how critical service is for us.”

Farmer’s Mutual was also their provider under the IEN. The manager was out and no one there knew why the costs were so vastly different.

The Department of Education, who has inherited the responsibility of ensuring schools have Internet service, thinks the higher cost may be the result of a number of things. Administrative costs for the education network is one possible expense. There were also capital costs of running fiber optic cable to the school. It could be that Famer’s Mutual is now providing the service at or below cost.
Whatever the reason, Fruitland and the Education Department are excited to see continued service for much less.

Of the $3.6 million appropriated to the Department, schools used only two-thirds of it. The extra $1.3 million will pay for extra service larger districts like West Ada have bought. Even after that, the Department expects to give nearly three quarters of a million dollars back to the state.