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ECISD Starlink program is a model for TEA Connect program

The Starlink program has benefited 135 families in the Ector County Independent School District.

ODESSA, Texas — Powering up and paving the way. That's on ECISD's agenda.

With their Starlink pilot program now expanding, Ector county ISD is serving as an example within the TEA Connect program for other districts looking to connect families who've never had commercial access to internet before.

"We have families across the state of Texas including in Ector county that simply can't afford broadband access due to their financial situation. They may live in a place in which access is available, but they do not have the financial means to afford that," Dr. Scott Muri, ECISD superintendent said.

That's why this program launched.

And through it, the Texas Education Agency is trying to make this access easier for families by taking care of the logistics.

This includes bulk purchasing these internet lines, tracking their progress and making sure families are on the receiving end.

"We built a support system for them to do that efficiently and effectively so that our small and rural districts, medium size districts that don't have the resources to launch a program like that themselves would be able to have the same efficiency because we provided the support of the system for them," said Gaby Roe, project lead for TEA Connect.

The goal is to bring ECISD's Starlink pilot program to full-speed.

"After about 6 months of working with it, we realized we really have a great solution in place for those families and now as we begin to look at state and federal funding, how could we scale that opportunity to other families, not only at our own district, but throughout the state of Texas," Muri said.

TEA is ready to pass the word along to our Texas legislators and to the new broadband office HB5 created in the last Texas legislative session.

"Support pilots that are already underway and collect data from those new technology pilots that we can provide to the broadband development office," Roe said.

If things stay on track, you're looking at more connections for Texans.

To learn more about how to sign up, reach out to your school district directly or visit the TEA website here.