Sen. Cameron goes quiet on WiFi controversy

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert

A month ago, Sen. Dean Cameron was one of the loudest critics of a controversial multiyear contract to install WiFi in Idaho high schools and junior high schools.

Upon learning that the contract could run five years — with options that could extend the deal to 15 years — the powerful co-chairman of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee was pointed in his remarks. For Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna to use a one-year, $2.25 million budget line item to support a multiyear deal was “certainly a stretch, and perhaps borderline on a lack of honesty,” Cameron told the Spokane Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell.

But now, as more details emerge about the state’s contract with Education Networks of America, Cameron is keeping his own counsel.

Asked for comment on the bid review process — which landed ENA the deal, over four less expensive bidders — here’s what Cameron said in an email:

“Although I have strong feelings about the WiFi proposal and the future obligation to the taxpayer, because I am in discussion with leadership and Superintendent Luna about those issues, I will reserve my comments, until we have exhausted all remedies. 

“While I am committed to the goal of technology is schools, include WiFi access, I am fervently dedicated to the budgeting process and the appropriate use of one-time money in our budget, as afforded to the legislature by the Idaho Constitution.”

Cameron was the Senate architect of the K-12 budget bill, which included the $2.25 million for WiFi installation.

He is also one of 42 sitting legislators who has received campaign contributions from ENA, the Nashville, Tenn., company that is Idaho’s lead contractor on the Idaho Education Network broadband project.

Click here to read more legislative reactions on the WiFi contract.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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