TMCNet:  Connecticut DPUC - CATV Issues Final Decisions Regarding Application of Stafford Public Schools for a Public, Educational and Governmental...

[December 13, 2012]

Connecticut DPUC - CATV Issues Final Decisions Regarding Application of Stafford Public Schools for a Public, Educational and Governmental...

(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Connecticut DPUC - CATV Issues Final Decisions Regarding Application of Stafford Public Schools for a Public, Educational and Governmental Programming and Education Technology Investment Account (PEGPETIA) Grant NEW BRITAIN, Conn., Dec. 12 -- The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority - CATV, issued the following final decision: DOCKET NO. 12-04-15 APPLICATION OF STAFFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR A PUBLIC, EDUCATIONAL AND GOVERNMENTAL PROGRAMMING AND EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT ACCOUNT (PEGPETIA) GRANT December 12, 2012 By the following Directors: John W. Betkoski, III Arthur H. House DECISION I. INTRODUCTION A. SUMMARY In this Decision, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority finds that Stafford Public Schools meets the criteria set forth in its March 26, 2008 Decision in Docket No. 07-10-11, DPUC Proceeding to Establish Administrative Guidelines for the Public Educational and Governmental Programming and Education Technology Investment Account Pursuant to Public Act 07-253. However, in this Decision, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority awards Stafford Public Schools a grant in the amount of $68,036 and not the $89,158 requested.


B. BACKGROUND OF THE PROCEEDING On March 26, 2008, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (Authority or PURA) issued its final Decision in Docket No. 07-10-11, DPUC Proceeding to Establish Administrative Guidelines for the Public Educational and Governmental Programming and Educational Technology Investment Account Pursuant to Public Act 07-253 (March 26, 2008 Decision). The purpose of that proceeding was to comply with Section16-331cc of the General Statutes of Connecticut (Conn. Gen. Stat.). Conn. Gen. Stat. Section16-331cc created the "public, educational and governmental programming and education technology investment account" (PEGPETIA).

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Section16-331cc, the funds in the PEGPETIA must be expended by the Authority as follows: (1) fifty per cent of the funds are to be made available to local community antenna television and video advisory councils; state-wide community antenna television and video advisory councils; public, educational and governmental programmers and public, educational and governmental studio operators (programming entities) to subsidize capital and equipment costs related to producing and procuring such programming; and (2) fifty per cent of the funds are to be made available to boards of education and other educational entities for education technology initiatives.

In the March 26, 2008 Decision, the Authority established eligibility requirements and procedures for applying for PEGPETIA funds and the criteria that it would apply when evaluating requests for funding. The Authority also established the eligibility criteria that applicants must satisfy when applying for funding and the information that must be provided when making an application for the funding. In addition, the Authority established an application and funding disbursement schedule that it employed when awarding funds to grant recipients.

The Authority also determined that the PEGPETIA funds were intended to promote and improve public, educational and governmental (PEG) access programming in Connecticut. March 26, 2008 Decision, pp. 2 and 3. The Authority concluded that the goal of PEGPETIA was to use 50 percent of the funding to increase the quantity, quality and variety of community access productions made available to Competitive Video Service Providers (CVSP) and Community Antenna Television (CATV) subscribers by making funds available to a wide array of entities involved, directly or indirectly, in community access-related activities. Id. The Authority further concluded that the Legislature's goal was to increase the quantity, quality and variety of educational programming currently being produced in Connecticut by public, educational and government studios, boards of education and other educational entities by the inclusion of the phrase "education technology investment fund" in the definition of the account. Id.

C. CONDUCT OF THE PROCEEDING By application filed on May 2, 2012 (Application), Stafford Public Schools (SPS or Applicant) requested a PEGPETIA grant (Grant) in the amount of $94,801. Application, p. 1. The Authority held a technical meeting at Ten Franklin Square, New Britain, Connecticut, on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 (Technical Meeting). As a result of the Technical Meeting, the Applicant submitted a revised budget of $89,158 on August 29, 2012 (Revised Budget).

D. PARTICIPANTS The Authority recognized Stafford Public Schools, 11 Levinthal Run, Stafford Springs, Connecticut 06076; and the Office of Consumer Counsel, Ten Franklin Square, New Britain, Connecticut 06051, as Participants to this proceeding.

II. AUTHORITY GOALS AND CRITERIA To ensure that the PEGPETIA program is implemented in accordance with the Legislature's intent, the Authority established the following goals and eligibility criteria as it administers the PEGPETIA program: 1. Increase the quantity, quality and variety of community access programs made available for viewing by CVSP and CATV subscribers.

2. Increase the quantity, quality and variety of educational programming produced in the state by boards of education and other educational entities.

3. Ensure availability of 50% of PEGPETIA funds to (1) local community antenna television and video advisory councils, state-wide community antenna television and video advisory councils, public, educational and governmental programmers and public, educational and governmental studio operators to subsidize capital and equipment costs related to producing and procuring such programming, and ensure availability of 50% of PEGPETIA funds to (2) boards of education and other educational entities for educational technology initiatives.

4. Encourage a wide variety of applicants (organizations and individuals) to be eligible to apply for PEGPETIA funds.

5. Establish eligibility requirements that are clear, fair and broad.

6. Establish an application process that is transparent, applicant-friendly and not unduly burdensome.

7. Evaluate all applications for PEGPETIA funds using the same criteria.

8. Ensure awarded PEGPETIA funds are expended as the grant award specifies.

9. Ensure all awarded PEGPETIA fund results are documented by the recipients.

Additionally, the Authority indicated that it would evaluate each application for funding based on, but not limited to the following criteria: 1. How the PEGPETIA funding application meets the Authority's Account administration goals outlined above.

2. The geographic area(s) that would benefit from the request (i.e., school(s), town(s), region(s)).

3. The total number of subscribers/students who will benefit from the grant in light of the request and/or amount funded.

4. Whether the funding application is for new, supplemental equipment, replacement equipment, and upgraded additional media or equipment.

5. Whether the applicant has received grant funding for a similar proposal in the past.

6. Whether the applicant has received grant funding for a similar proposal from another entity.

7. The applicant's request expresses a reasonable budget and timeframe.

8. The ability of the proposal to advance varied public interest goals and/or values.

9. How this proposal compares to similar proposals filed by other Applicants and the amount of the grants awarded to them.

III. PEG AND EDUCATIONAL FUNDING A. PEG ACCESS To be eligible for funding, the Authority must determine if the Applicant is a programming entity that is requesting funding to subsidize capital and equipment costs related to producing and procuring programming, or it is a board of education or other education entity requesting funding for education technology initiatives.

In its March 26, 2008 Decision, the Authority did not define the terms "other education entities" and "education technology initiatives." In addition, the PURA did not limit how broad those eligibility criteria might be in order to receive a wide variety of applications. Therefore, the Authority must determine whether a request for funding falls under the PEG access portion or education technology initiative portion of the funding. The Authority has determined that any PEGPETIA application from a programming entity that is requesting funding to subsidize capital and equipment costs related to producing and procuring such programming will be subject to the capital costs and equipment guidelines addressed in Section C. below. However individual PEG producers' requests for grants proposing to offer educational programming as part of PEG will be evaluated under the PEG funding and not the 50 percent of the funding earmarked for education technology initiatives.

The Authority believes the mission of PEG access is to afford citizens the ability to create, communicate and distribute their messages to as broad an audience as possible. PEG access has historically been an important public forum that has been shaped and cultivated by dedicated programmers, studio operators, and volunteers with a desire to disseminate information. The spirit and intent of PEG access has always been to provide local communities a public platform for the exchange of ideas and information through the efforts of PEG programmers, studio operators and volunteer producers.

In the March 26, 2008 Decision, the Authority included public, educational and governmental programmers and public, educational and governmental studio operators whom may or may not be an individual PEG access producer among those eligible for PEGPETIA grants. It was the Authority's intent to provide convenient access, through individual ownership of cameras and basic video production packages, to the equipment necessary to produce PEG programming. Access studios throughout the state currently have equipment available for use by all of Connecticut's citizens who are trained to produce programming. The PEGPETIA program encourages those individual producers with defined ideas and an expressed commitment to produce ongoing and continuous programming to apply for grant funding. Such funding would allow them the opportunity of using their own equipment to film and/or edit projects without having to rely on the equipment of the local access studio.

It is expected that placing video equipment in the hands of producers will result in an increase in the amount and variety of PEG programming. The Authority believes those individual producers who may be thinking of producing an individual program or a very limited amount of programming should continue to utilize the certified access provider in their area for equipment needs. In the event such producers increase the amount and variety of programming produced, they should then apply for PEGPETIA funding to foster their efforts.

B. EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES The Authority will evaluate "other education entities" as used by the Legislature, on a case-by-case basis. The Authority must also determine the definition of "education technology initiatives" as it relates to the March 26, 2008 Decision and Conn. Gen. Stat. Section16-331cc. For purposes of the PEGPETIA and pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Section4d-80(e), educational technology shall include, but not be limited to: (1) computer-assisted instruction; (2) information retrieval and data transfer; (3) telecommunications related to voice, data and video transmission of instruction related materials and courses; (4) the development and acquisition of educational software; and (5) the instructional uses of the Internet and other technologies.

Additionally, while the Authority will evaluate applications for grants for education technology initiatives pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Section4d-80(e), such applications will also be subject to the capital costs and equipment guidelines defined in Section C. below. The Authority will continue to evaluate applications filed under the PEGPETIA for "education technology initiatives" on a case-by-case basis.

C. CAPITAL COSTS AND EQUIPMENT For the purposes of evaluation of PEGPETIA grants, the Authority considers capital costs as the one-time setup costs of an applicant's activity or project. Conn. Gen. Stat. Section16-331cc specifically authorized the Authority to fund "capital costs and equipment" to produce and procure programming.

Capital costs do not include ongoing expenses such as rent, supplies, insurance, maintenance, salaries, and other like expenses (operating expenses). Capital costs, unlike operating expenses, are typically one-time costs and have a clear start and finish to the activity or project. An example of a qualifying capital cost would be a reasonable cost for a contractor to ship and/or install the necessary equipment requested for a project.

IV. AUTHORITY ANALYSIS OF THE APPLICATION By its May 2, 2012 Application, as supplemented by the Revised Budget dated September 13, 2012, SPS requested a Grant in the amount of $89,158 to acquire a CISCO Videoconference system in order to implement interactive videoconferencing. Application, p. 3. Interactive videoconferencing provides a modality for engaging students in the learning process and permitting them to experience new learning opportunities beyond the classroom walls.

The Applicant proposes to connect two schools using video-conferencing equipment to support distance learning. This grant would directly benefit over 1,000 students and 175 teachers, as well as Stafford area adults interested in general educational development and additional training. Also, SPS plans to broadcast certain lessons on the local community access channel to allow for at-home learning. Id., pp. 3-5.

The Applicant submitted a budget that included $89,158 in equipment; service agreements with the vendor; and engineering and implementation. SPS identified funding for technology that it set aside to insure the success of this program and specifically identified $61,851 earmarked to the two schools for hardware. Budget Modification, p. 3. The Applicant requests that the remaining $27,307 be used for labor and service agreements which provide for three years of vendor support including troubleshooting and technical support. Id.; p. 4; Responses to Interrogatories CA-8, CA-9 and CA-10.

The Authority has examined the budget and capital request and finds that most of the funding request in the Application represents an educational initiative as defined under Conn. Gen. Stat. Section16-331cc(b). In addition, a portion of the SPS grant request qualifies because the requested funds would be used to subsidize capital and equipment costs related to producing and procuring community access programming.

The Authority has implemented a new directive to limit non-equipment costs to no more than 10 percent of the overall grant request. The initial request by the Applicant included almost 31 percent in non-equipment related costs and the Authority directs SPS to either work with the vendor to reduce the cost or provide those costs through its own funding. Therefore, the Authority has made an adjustment to the proposed $89,158 in engineering and implementation to make that equal to 10 percent of the requested equipment. Therefore, the Authority grants SPS a funding award of $68,036 consisting of $61,851 for equipment and $6,185 for engineering and implementation costs.

As a condition of receiving the amount granted by this Decision, the Applicant must file the affidavit and Connecticut Agency Vendor form (Vendor Form) included as attachments to this Decision. Failure to sign, file or fill out completely the affidavit and the Vendor Form by the due date may result in the revocation of the grant award.

Failure to comply with the reporting requirements contained herein and in specific Orders below may result in the Authority revoking the grant. Any applicant found by the Authority not to be in compliance with the requirements listed herein will be required to reimburse to the PEGPETIA, the total amount expended and to return any unused amount to the Authority.

V. FINDINGS OF FACT 1. SPS has experience in education technology and grant administration.

2. The Application includes proposed capital costs and equipment that are approvable under the PEGPETIA program guidelines in that they are related to producing and procuring community access programming and to educational technology initiatives.

3. The Applicant's proposed non-equipment costs (installation and training) are approximately 10% of the non-equipment costs equals $6,185 amount approved.

VI. CONCLUSION AND ORDERS A. CONCLUSION The Authority finds that SPS qualifies for a PEGPETIA Grant. The Authority approves $61,851 to purchase the equipment listed in the Application, in addition to $6,185 for installation costs. Accordingly, the PEGPETIA Grant awarded by this Decision is $68,036, subject to the conditions included herein.

B. ORDERS For the following Orders, submit an original and one copy of the required documentation to the Executive Secretary, Ten Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051, and file an electronic version through the Department's website at www.ct.gov/pura. Submissions filed in compliance with Department Orders must be identified by all three of the following: Docket Number, Title and Order Number.

1. No later than January 21, 2013 SPS shall file and sign the affidavit attached herein.

2. No later than January 21, 2013 SPS must complete, sign and return the Vendor Form application attached herein.

3. No later than March 21, 2013, the Applicant shall file copies of all receipts for all equipment purchased with the grant in addition to receipts for installation services paid for by PEGPETIA funds.

4. No later than July 21, 2013, the Applicant shall report on the overall success of the grant.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer that is committed to requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any person with a disability who may need information in an alternative format may contact the agency's ADA Coordinator at 860-424-3194 or at deep.hrmed@ct.gov. Any person with limited proficiency in English, who may need information in another language, may contact the agency's Title VI Coordinator at 860-424-3035 or at deep.aaoffice@ct.gov. Any person with a hearing impairment may call the State of Connecticut relay number - 711. Discrimination complaints may be filed with DEEP's Title VI Coordinator. Requests for accommodations must be made at least two weeks prior to any agency hearing, program or event.

AFFIDAVIT PEGPETIA Grants View affidavit at http://www.dpuc.state.ct.us/FINALDEC.NSF/0d1e102026cb64d98525644800691cfe/71d877c970eadc2785257ad2006261b4 OpenDocument TNS mv45 121213-4138791 (c) 2012 Targeted News Service

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