Bell Atlantic Awards $1 Million in Grants to Virginia Public Schools, Colleges

Bell Atlantic Awards $1 Million in Grants to Virginia Public Schools, Colleges

Grants Earmarked for New Distance Learning Technology

December 17, 1998


Paul Miller,

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than a dozen public schools and colleges across the
Old Dominion will soon receive $1 million in grants from Bell Atlantic - Virginia
to jump-start advanced distance learning projects.

Since launching its educational grants program in 1994, Bell Atlantic has
contributed $5 million to equip over 80 Virginia classrooms for interactive
distance learning. The company intends to fund an additional $2 million in grants
to support this effort over the next two years.

"Bell Atlantic is proud to take a leading role in enhancing the quality of education
in Virginia," said Hugh Stallard, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Virginia.
"Our grants have clearly helped rural, urban and suburban schools get more for
their educational dollar."

The winners of the 1998 Bell Atlantic - Virginia distance learning grants are:

The Commonwealth Governor's School (Spotsylvania) -- $22,000 to expand its
distance learning network hub site at the Spotsylvania Vocational Center.

George Mason University -- $120,000 to purchase multimedia workstations and
video conferencing equipment, which will enable GMU to extend its current
distance learning capabilities.

Goochland County Public Schools -- $90,000 for equipment to extend the video
distance learning network at J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College to
Goochland High School.

New Century Communications Network -- $100,000 to establish two new
interactive distance learning classrooms in the region using the latest ATM
(asynchronous transfer mode) technology. The New Century Communications
Network is a consortium of public schools in Allegheny, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd,
Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski and Roanoke counties. Other network
members include the cities of Radford, Roanoke and Salem; the Southwest
Virginia Governor's School; Ferrum, Roanoke and Hollins colleges; Radford
University; Virginia Tech, and Dabney Lancaster, New River and Virginia
Western community colleges.

Old Dominion University -- $110,000 to purchase equipment to link four
Norfolk elementary schools to ODU's Darden College of Education. Student
teachers will use the system as part of the university's teacher preparation

Southwest Virginia Education and Training Network (SVETN) - $100,000 to
outfit two new distance learning sites in Dickenson County. SVETN is a
consortium for public schools in Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Lee, Russell,
Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise counties, as well as the cities of
Bristol and Norton. Other SVETN members include Clinch Valley and Emory &
Henry colleges, and Mountain Empire, Southwest Virginia and Virginia
Highlands community colleges.

Spotsylvania County Public Schools -- $65,000 to purchase video equipment to
expand the school system's current distance learning network.

Stafford County Public Schools -- $65,000 to fund a second Commonwealth
Governor's School distance learning center in Stafford County.

Virginia Commonwealth University -- $100,000 to create distance learning
classrooms at the university's libraries.

Virginia Tech -- $100,000 for additional equipment to continue the expansion of
distance learning course offerings.

Grants were awarded by a panel of eight members representing government,
education, the information technology industry and Bell Atlantic.

A recent independent study commissioned by Bell Atlantic found that 96 percent
of surveyed Virginia school administrators believe the future of education is tied
to the capability of institutions to deliver distance learning courses. Most
respondents agreed that, if schools do not embrace the concept of "alternative
delivery" of instruction, they will be left behind.

The study also concluded that 94 percent of surveyed Virginia school
administrators believe distance learning allowed them to increase the total number
and range of courses offered.

Bell Atlantic distance learning grants are available to kindergarten through
twelfth-grade public schools and all state-supported colleges and universities in
the company's Virginia service area. Bell Atlantic serves roughly two-thirds of
the public schools in the state. Recipients may use the grants to purchase
classroom equipment, such as TV monitors, cameras and microphones, necessary
for interactive distance learning.

Distance learning systems are not new to Virginia; schools have been able to
receive instructional classes over satellite links for a number of years. Unlike the
traditional satellite system, however, Bell Atlantic's new distance learning
networks are totally interactive -- visually and verbally. Students and faculty are
able to see one another and communicate spontaneously over the network. And
teachers can call on students who raise their hands, much the same as they would
in a natural classroom setting.

Stallard suggested that interactive distance learning will help bring about a
measure of equality in course offerings among the schools. For example, rural
schools that, alone, may not be able to offer a comprehensive language arts
curriculum may do so at a fraction of the expense through interactive distance

Bell Atlantic launched its first distance learning project in 1994 in the
southwestern end of the state, linking two Lee County high schools with
Mountain Empire Community College over a 50-mile fiber optic network. The
schools provide all programming on the network.

Schools wishing to apply for future Bell Atlantic distance learning funding should
write: Manager-Distance Learning Grants, Bell Atlantic - Virginia, 11th floor, 600
E. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219 or, via e-mail, to

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 42 million telephone access lines and eight million wireless
customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced
wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the
world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are
also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications
markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.