County Spreads Cable to Private Schools Franchise Fees Pay for Educational Technology

Article excerpt

For years, the wiring for cable television hook-ups for classrooms has gone mostly to public schools, thanks to franchise fees that cable companies pay to St. Louis County.

Now parochial and private schools will get their turn.

In the next four years, about 110 schools will get cable television distribution systems as well as video equipment paid for by the fees. About 15 of the schools are public; about 80 are Catholic, county officials said. "Our push now is to get all schools served equitably," said Gerald D. Troester, education-technology director for the St. Louis County Cable Television Public Educational Commission. The group decides where to spend franchise fees for educational purposes. When someone installs a cable television distribution system, they push up a ceiling and run a cable wire down a school hall, with spurs to classrooms where there are outlets for cable. In a letter to county officials, George Henry, superintendent of education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, called the decision "a major step that will ensure that all children and educators in St. Louis County have access to the same quality educational programming." In the past nine years, about 280 public schools have gotten cable distribution systems and video equipment through franchise fees. Troester said 101 Catholic schools, 20 Lutheran schools and 26 private schools got video equipment, but not cable television distribution systems, in 1990. Since 1982 the county has set aside 2 percent a year of the gross revenue of cable companies in unincorporated parts of the county for educational purposes. That amounts to about $700,000 a year. Schools apply for the money, and a seven-member commission decides how to disperse it. …