Two tech systems, one audit

The state could spend $90,000 on an audit of two much-discussed school technology networks: a statewide high school WiFi system and the Idaho Education Network broadband system.

On Tuesday, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee assigned the job to the state’s legislative auditors.

The catchall “service audit” would focus on several objectives — gauging school satisfaction with the new WiFi systems, installed since last fall; determining ownership of the broadband equipment installed during the Idaho Education Network rollout; and measuring how schools are using the Idaho Education Network system.

The “service audit” is a significant piece of the short-term funding puzzle, designed to keep the broadband network in place until the 2015 legislative session. JFAC agreed last week to an eight-month bailout, but budget-writers said they want a better sense of how the system is being applied in the classroom.

The WiFi and broadband budget debates have been recurring issues during the legislative session — and are two of the unresolved issues still on the Legislature’s docket. But budgets still have to work their way through both houses, and the WiFi is a component of the larger K-12 budget.

But the debate on WiFi and broadband appears to be winding down. JFAC voted unanimously for the service audit Tuesday morning and adjourned, perhaps for the rest of the legislative session.