Community Blog: The EDge

For Idaho schools, a $3 million dash for the cash is under way

Rob Sauer isn’t sure his Homedale School District will apply for a share of the $3 million available for technology pilot projects.

On Monday — as state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna was announcing the bidding process — Sauer said his district will need to look over the guidelines. But if Homedale decides to bid, he expects “pretty steep” competition for the money.

That seems a safe bet.

The bidding process figures to be an intense, competitive dash for the cash.

Luna wants applications by June 14. A panel of stakeholders and department staffers will look over the applications, and award the money by July 1.

Luna’s goal is to get the money in hand in time for the 2013-14 school year — to begin pilot programs that legislators and Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force can look at as the consider the long-term future of technology in the classroom.

What they will learn from the pilots, a few months into the process, is an open question. In Paul Elementary School — a privately funded test case for one-to-one devices in the classroom — educators generally point only to anecdotal evidence of student growth, five months after the school’s 500 students received iPads.

Sauer says his district isn’t afraid of technology. In 2012, before voters rejected Proposition 3, Homedale applied to be part of the first wave of high schools to incorporate laptops into high schools.

Homedale made that cut. More than 170 high schools competed for a share of the money.

The competition figures to be heated once again.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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