Columbia, MO Columns and Jesse Hall

MOREnet’s Council Will Meet to Assess Impact of State Funding Cut

Thursday, June 17, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 17, 2010

CONTACT: Sherry Loyd
Executive Director’s Office, MOREnet
(573) 884-2666
loyds@more.net

MOREnet’s Council Will Meet to Assess Impact of State Funding Cut

Cost, availability of Internet access for K-12 students statewide at risk

Columbia, Missouri – Following today’s announcement of the state’s decision to cut the remaining $6.8 million in funding to the Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet), officials announced that MOREnet council members will meet tomorrow to determine the future of the 20-year-old statewide consortium. MOREnet currently serves more than 700 members. This membership includes K-12 schools, public and private higher education institutions, public libraries and state government offices.

“The news of this funding cut is unfortunate and disappointing,” said John Gillispie, executive director of MOREnet. “What’s at stake is considerable. For many years our members have enjoyed low-cost telecommunications and support services for their students, local community residents and TeleHealth care clinics across the state. This budget cut may make access to some of these services cost-prohibitive to certain members of the consortium.”

Gillispie empathized with the tough budget decisions that have to be made, but noted the multimillion-dollar defunding of MOREnet will open up significant challenges, in particular, for K-12 schools that operate under the auspices of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“With no state funding to K-12 and higher education for the services that they’ve relied on from MOREnet for two decades, all of these institutions now will need to consider how they will provide broadband Internet access and support services for their students beginning as early as this fall,” Gillispie said.

He explained that MOREnet has been able to leverage its purchasing power on behalf of all its members over the years. “If we can’t continue to do that, costs will more than likely rise,” Gillispie said. “The majority of our members have known no other Internet service provider since back before the Internet was publicly available. Therefore, our members have extremely limited experience and staffing to manage the procurement, maintenance and repair, and the growth demands for these services.”

About MOREnet

The Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet) is a consortium of schools, public libraries and higher education institutions, sponsored by a 20-year collaboration between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Secretary of State’s Office and the Department of Higher Education. MOREnet, which operates as a separate business unit within the University of Missouri, was created to deliver secure, reliable and robust Internet connectivity to its member organizations. MOREnet provides such essential services as technical support, videoconferencing support, technical training and network security. From advanced communication tools and online resource databases, to network configuration and assessment, MOREnet is committed to supporting and enabling its members’ missions through the use of technology to enhance opportunities for public access, learning and research.

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MOREnet Council Members