By David Knopf/Richmond News
Richmond School Board voted unanimously Monday to deny a request that it pay the district’s Internet provider money the business is owed through the Federal Communications Commission’s Schools and Libraries Program.
Worldwide Technologies, which does business as TurboNet, contracted with Richmond Public Schools to provide Internet. The contract called for reimbursement to come through a split-payment program shared by the district and the Schools and Libraries Program, also known as E-rate.
Superintendent Damon Kizzire told the school board that Worldwide Technologies asked the district to lay out the E-rate share and in turn be reimbursed once the government pays the company.
Kizzire said the government has been late in making its approximately $2,000-a-quarter payment to the Lexington company.
“He’s kind of got a legitimate thing, but I don’t want to see us pay that,” Kizzire said.
Assistant Superintendent Julie Stevenson said the district has complied with terms of the contract it has with the provider and made its payments on time.
“When we wrote the application to E-rate, we wrote that the government pay 56 percent and we pay the rest,” she said.
Stevenson said she agreed that the district should not comply with the company’s request, but she did say that when the current contract is up she would consider rewriting it with a different payment plan.
“We currently have a contract with him,” she said.
The school board agreed, voting 6-0 against the request.
School Board President Chris Minnick said the district might consider looking for a back-up provider should Worldwide Technologies decide to withhold services. There was no indication Monday the company was considering that.
In 2010, the school district and Worldwide Technologies signed a three-year contract in which the company agreed to pay $400 a month to access a 120-foot transmission tower behind Richmond High School.
The plan was for Worldwide Technologies to tie into an AT&T fiber-optic cable on the campus and use the tower to distribute its high-speed Internet service.