Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon addresses rural Internet access

Speaking to the leaders of the state’s electric cooperatives at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ Annual Meeting, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon spoke about school consolidation and improving rural Internet access.

Simon said she is proud to be a member of Egyptian Electric Cooperative and proud of her nephew who is a lineman for the co-op. “I appreciate what you do,” said Simon. “It is in line with the issues my staff and I work on. One area is rural Internet connectivity. For those of us who live at the end of the road, Internet connectivity is a lot like rural ­electrification. I think we can learn a lot from the ­cooperative experience. You can be a part of developing how that gets to the last mile of the road.”

Simon thanked the co-ops for being a part of developing young leaders with their Youth Day in Springfield program. She also talked about school consolidation, a controversial subject impacting rural students. Simon, who chairs a commission on school consolidation, said a report from the commission recom­mends some ways for schools to maintain local control and still reap some of the benefits of consolidation efficiencies.

“The report recommends the best of voluntary and virtual ­consolidation,” said Simon. “Some may want to work with another school on buying textbooks, or buying health insurance for their employees, or maybe sharing a ­superintendent. If you are next door to a school that has a great biology teacher, or an advanced math teacher, let’s find a way to share those resources.”