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Despite “Excellent” Service, Town Exploring Taxpayer-Funded Network For Schools

April 11, 2017

Grand Island, N.Y. taxpayers are about to shell out $12,000 for a study that is supposed to determine the viability of a city-run broadband network.

But does the city need such a system? It depends on whom you ask.

Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray has said, “Grand Island has some of the worst internet service you can find anywhere,” but School District Board of Education President Brian Graham said service offered by the private sector is just fine, even “excellent.”

Why then did the school board agree to use $2,500 out of its reserves for the study?

According to a story posted on GovTech.com by The Buffalo News it’s so the city will have access to additional pools of taxpayer funding if it decides to build a government-owned middle mile network. McMurray, the town supervisor who discussed the city’s plans, believes that “if the feasibility study finds merit in moving forward, the school district has access to grant funding for a potential project that the town does not.”

McMurray would not promise that service from a government run network would be better than the service the school currently has. He only said it would “at least as good.” Graham, the school board president, was more cautious is in approach. He said the school district “would have to understand how a municipal broadband would benefit its students and faculty before making any other commitments to go further.”

The Buffalo News article did not discuss how much a municipal network ultimately would cost Grand Island to build, but McMurray did say that “the town won’t be getting into the business of providing direct internet service to homes in the town.”