Pascrell, Glascoe Save $2.2 Million In Federal Technology Grants For Paterson Schools
PATERSON – Ensuring that Paterson public schools continue to receive strong federal support, Congressman Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today joined State District Superintendent Dr. Michael Glascoe to announce that the Paterson Public School system has won a fight to restore $2.2 million in E-rate grant funding that had been rescinded due to a federal administrative error.
The grant --for the installation of a telecom system in the School District—was originally awarded in 2004, but was rescinded by the awarding authority, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) due to a flawed decision. Paterson Schools appealed the decision to rescind the money to the FCC, and with Congressman Pascrell’s help, learned that all money would be restored.
“I am extremely pleased that the faulty decision to try to rescind this critical money has been reversed” said Pascrell. “Paterson Schools did everything they were supposed to when originally applying for this grant, and they have proved to be a deserving and responsible recipient of these critical funds.”
State District Superintendent Michael Glascoe stated, “We are most grateful for Congressman Pascrell’s invaluable support and commitment to the children of Paterson. With his help, we are moving forward and keeping student achievement at the forefront. This grant will be instrumental to that effort.”
The E-Rate initiative was established as part of the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996 which provided discounts to public and private schools and libraries in America on telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connections.
After initially awarding Paterson Schools $2.2 million for the 2004-2005 school year, and after the School District installed the telecom system, USAC informed the District that no money would be forthcoming based on a misunderstanding of state law.
While it was readily apparent to Congressman Pascrell that the School District followed all federal and State procurement laws and properly relied on New Jersey's State master contract in accordance with USAC procedures, the USAC misunderstood New Jersey law in determining that the underlying state contract was not in conformance with federal requirements. To make matters worse, the USAC initially determined that the State master contract was valid for the funding year, thereby allowing for the award of funding. In a subsequent decision, more than a year later, based on the USAC's "revised view" that the State master contract was not valid for the entire funding year, the award was rescinded.
The School Board sent an appeal to the FCC in January, and Congressman Pascrell was a vocal proponent of their cause. In addition to holding telephone meetings with FCC officials on Paterson’s behalf, Congressman Pascrell also sent a letter to the FCC on August 25, 2006.
“Today’s decision by the FCC is the right one. I am truly heartened that Paterson Public Schools will get the grant originally and necessarily awarded to them,” reiterated Pascrell.