Technology grants: 81 schools seek money

Eighty-one Idaho schools submitted applications by Friday’s deadline to claim a share of a new $3 million technology pilot program.

The schools, coming from 59 Idaho districts and charters, requested a total of nearly $19.5 million, Idaho State Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said Monday.

Applications picked up considerably late last week, after only 10 schools had applied for the pilot program by June 11.

Now that the applications are in, a review panel must score the proposals and recommend pilot recipients.

McGrath said department officials plan to announce the pilot schools by July 1.

Until that time, the names of the schools submitting proposals, the applications themselves and the identities of review committee members will be kept secret, McGrath said.

Source: Idaho State Department of Education

“This is the same process we followed in 2012 for identifying the first one-third of schools to participate in the 1:1 rollout,” McGrath wrote in an email. “This ensures the integrity of the process.”

Although specifics won’t be available until July 1, McGrath offered some insight in the applications.

More schools requested iPads than any other type of device. Thirty-six percent of the submissions were geared around iPads (a device already in use, for example, in the Magic Valley’s Paul Elementary School.) Meanwhile, 22 percent of applicants sought laptops, McGrath said, while 16 percent sought Chromebooks, the low-cost, stripped down laptops some districts are already using.

Schools also submitted requests for other tablets and Hewlett-Packard 4440s (the same laptops that would have been rolled out in high schools under a contract voters rejected with the repeal of Proposition 3).

The Legislature created the technology pilot program earlier this year through Senate Bill 1199. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has said schools could seek professional development, infrastructure upgrades or increased technology.

Luna also said he hoped the pilot recipients would be fewer in number and larger in scope and that a school with little technology would be able to deploy a full-school model with the money.


Clark Corbin

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