Checking In and E-rate Update

March 31, 2020

Dear E-raters,

I find myself in an unsettling position.  I know so many of you are working long, long days trying to provide broadband/devices to your students and staff at home, helping your teachers become cyber teachers, and ensuring that your networks are safe and reliable for what’s to come in the next few weeks.  I also know many of you are parents of school-age children and the challenges that brings as you try to work remotely yet be engaged and responsible moms and dads.  In all, you have a lot on your plate and E-rate is at the bottom of your to-do list.

But unless the FCC extends the Form 471 deadline again (which I have not heard that they’re considering), it remains April 29, and therefore I need to continue to send you E-rate updates and reminders.  Yes, it feels a little tone-deaf considering the current events, but nevertheless, I want you to have the information and resources to continue to file your applications and go through PIA review successfully.  So please know that when you receive my messages over the next several weeks, I’m sending with some trepidation and with my profound respect for what you are facing and accomplishing for your schools and libraries.

FY 2020 Status of Filings as of 3/31/2020:

  • 1260 FRNs filed by 600 PA entities
  • 568 FRNs in ‘Wave Ready’ Status (meaning they will likely be funded in Wave 1)
  • By comparison, last year, 2500 FRNs were filed by 925 PA entities.  So we have a long way to go in the next 4 weeks…

Form 471 Deadline:  If you cannot file your Form 471 by the April 29 deadline – for whatever reason -  please let me know and I’ll do whatever I can to make sure your application gets submitted.

Extended Time for PIA Responses:  Although the FCC gave all applicants an automatic 14-day extension to respond to PIA inquiries, USAC has assured us that if you don’t respond, your application will not be denied.  In fact, the application will simply be set aside until you are available to respond.  USAC understands that many of you are under water dealing with turning your schools into instant cyber schools, and/or the information that PIA is seeking is located in the school/library for which you are prohibited from entering.  If you receive a PIA inquiry and cannot respond, try to reply to the reviewer and let them know that.  Please note that your PIA deadline showing in EPC will not be automatically adjusted because of system limitations.

Unique Ways to Sign Contracts:  I’ve heard from a few schools and libraries that have selected their vendors, but cannot sign the vendor contract because they don’t have a scanner (or printer) at home.  Here are two suggestions if you find yourself in this situation:

  1. Print, sign the contract and then take a picture of it with your phone and e-mail it to yourself.  Then save the file as a PDF and upload it in your Contract Record.
  2. Electronically sign and certify the contract using Adobe Reader.  E-rate Central has provided a very nice illustrated guide with instructions for adding electronic signatures to any document:
  3. As a last resort, compose an Award E-mail to the vendor and explain that due to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the e-mail serves as the official notification/award of the contract that should be attached to the contract until time when a physical signature can be obtained.  The Contract Award Date in the EPC Contract Record will be the date of the e-mail and the e-mail should be uploaded with the contract into the Contract Record.

Earliest Date to Purchase Category 2 Equipment:  April 1 (tomorrow) remains the earliest date by which you may purchase Category 2 equipment.  The Form 471 window extension has not affected that date in any way.

Form 470 Deadline is Tomorrow:  With the Form 471 deadline extended, the last date to file a Form 470 and still be able to meet the Form 471 deadline, is now April 1.  (Also, April 14 is the last possible date to issue a PEPPM mini-bid and still be able to file a Form 471 by April 29.)

CARES Act Includes Funding for K-12 Schools and Libraries:  The stimulus law (CARES Act) included approx. $13.23 billion for K-12 schools that will be distributed to state departments of education through a formula grant.  There are 12 very broad, eligible uses for the funds, of which several relate to technology, including providing technology for online learning to all students and purchasing hardware, software and connectivity for students.  The law also includes $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for grants to libraries to expand digital network access, purchasing internet accessible devices, and providing technical support services.  I’m sure PDE will provide additional information to LEAs and libraries about these funds in the coming weeks/months.

Stay home and stay healthy, my big E-rate family.  And please let me know how I can help you!

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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