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JFAC puts off high school WiFi decision for one more day

After some back-and-forth, JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, has withdrawn her objection, and the joint budget committee has agreed to hold off for one day on the intent language to go with the public school budget regarding high school WiFi networks. “We have a wonderful new education budget that needs to get moving,” Bell told the committee. “It needs to go to the bodies … so we can get it out and people are comfortable with what we’ve done.”

She said, “The issue here was just simply fairness – fairness to those schools out there that were not wired at this point, carefully keeping our contract commitments, and then giving the schools time to get into where we know actually what does work, and maybe when we come back next year, this system is what we want, or  maybe this system is not what we want.” She said, “I would really like us to see those budgets move.”

Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, said his problem was with a clause in the intent language that says school districts can get the funding for their own systems, at $21 per enrolled student, if their own systems will meet a certain WiFi standard set by the Idaho Education Technology Association. Mortimer said it’s his understanding that the association hasn’t yet set that standard. It’s also unclear whether the networks being installed now under a statewide contract will meet that standard.

After being assured that the delay will be for only one day, Bell said she’d withdraw her objection – just after Mortimer pressed for an up-or-down vote on a motion for a one-day delay.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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