The state's oldest school building in continuous use will soon get a 21st century upgrade.
Constructed in 1909 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Mancos High School - along with other schools, the public library and the town hall - will soon be installed with high-speed broadband Internet connections. The project, slated for completion in August, is part of a larger statewide initiative to create a 4,600-mile fiber optics network.
"Connecting rural parts of the state to the rest of the world is a great economic tool," said Mancos Town Administrator Angela Phillips. "This is a positive step for Mancos."
The current bandwidth available to the Mancos School District is limited, and online classes and school labs both struggle when operating at the same time, said superintendent Brian Hanson.
"We still have folks in town on dial-up," said Hanson.
In a small school district with limited resources, today's teachers need access to information in order for students to be competitive in the global marketplace, Hanson added.
"This new service will give our students opportunities that we just can't offer," Hanson said. "We're excited."
The increased bandwidth could also affect all Mancos residents. Hanson said he's hopeful the new infrastructure would attract competing Internet service providers to help lower overall Internet costs.
The entire $100 million regional project is a partnership between EAGLE-Net Alliance and the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments. Funding is provided by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and matching funds and services from private and public entities throughout Colorado.
In a press release, EAGLE-Net CEO Randy Zila said communities across the state need high-speed broadband service in order to be competitive with neighboring states and the nation.
"By the time we complete this project, we will have built a broadband infrastructure that can serve more than 170 communities across Colorado," Zila said.