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Better rural internet advocated for

Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Superintendent of Schools Thomas Ciaccio, left, testified before members of the state Legislature on Sept. 19 during a public hearing about improving access to high-speed internet in rural areas. He spoke on behalf of FFCS and rural schools alongside representatives of the state's Rural Schools Association, School Boards Association and Council of School Superintendents. (Photo submitted)

ALBANY — Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Superintendent of Schools, Thomas Ciaccio, testified before members of the New York state Legislature on Sept. 19 during a public hearing about improving access to high-speed internet in rural areas.

Ciaccio was one of 20 people to testify during the hearing. Ciaccio spoke on behalf of FFCS and rural schools alongside representatives of the state’s Rural Schools Association, School Boards Association and Council of School Superintendents.

According to a news release on the state Senate website, the hearing was organized to “ensure that we receive informed perspectives to help us better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with rural broadband access. The hearing will also help identify areas of need and to better assure broadband access for rural New Yorkers and to learn about successes and local opportunities that we can expand upon.”

Ciaccio spoke about the impact of broadband limitations on students’ at-home learning, including their limited use of school-issued devices at home because of the absence of broadband, and connectivity issues when using alternative internet services, including cellular data.

“A student’s ability to thrive in a digital world should not come down to where you choose to live,” Ciaccio said. “We believe high-speed broadband internet should be a basic utility everyone has access to if they so choose.”

Ciaccio was invited to testify by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, who co-chaired the hearing.

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