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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Idaho officials scramble to keep broadband to schools after court voids IEN contract as illegal

State officials and legislative leaders are scrambling to find a way to keep the statewide broadband network that serves Idaho high schools running, after a judge tossed out the five-year-old $60 million contract for the service on Monday. The head of Syringa Networks, the company that sued and won, is calling for a re-bid of the contract, and House Speaker Scott Bedke says that's likely where the state is headed. But in the meantime, he said emergency or bridge efforts are called for so school kids taking distance courses on the network don't get interrupted mid-term.

“This is about the kids’ education,” Bedke said Wednesday. “The judge has pointed out some problems, obviously. But we’re in the middle of a school year.” Officials from the state Department of Administration, the Legislature, the governor’s office and more were meeting or holding conversations about the issue on Wednesday. “We’re working on a path to ensure that this distance learning continues around the state,” Bedke said. Jon Hanian, spokesman for Gov. Butch Otter, said, “They’re still evaluating the decision and then determining the path forward.”

The network didn’t go down today, Department of Administration spokeswoman Jennifer Pike confirmed, even though a 4th District judge ruled that the contract between the state and Education Networks of America and Qwest, now known as CenturyLink, to provide the service was issued illegally. Judge Patrick Owen declared the contract void. You can read my full story here at

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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