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Florida Department of Education Proposes $441.7 Million in New Technology Funding

The Florida Department of Education has made a budget request for more than $440 million in 2013 to pay for computers, broadband connections, and other high tech equipment to ensure the state's public schools are sufficiently equipped for digital learning. The state Board of Education will vote this week on the budget proposal that requests more than $800 million in new funding, including the $441.7 million for technology upgrades.

Details of the proposed technology initiative include:

  • $239 million in grants to help school districts upgrade their wireless infrastructure;
  • $151 million to increase network bandwidth; and
  • $51.7 million to lease more than 300,000 computers to prepare for new electronic exams that will replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

The technology funding would be distributed equally among the state's school districts, so districts that have made their own plans to pay for technology upgrades would receive the same funding as other districts.

Before proposing this technology initiative, the board had been studying for months ways to help districts meet state technology mandates. Many students in Florida still use paper-based materials, such as printed textbooks, and are expected to progress through the material at the same rate as their classmates, according to information released by the Department of Education, whereas in a digital learning environment, there are more opportunities for students to learn at their own pace.

Representatives from both parties have stated that technology upgrades for school districts should be a funding priority, and Governor Rick Scott has said that he would not cut funding to education.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].