The Senate Finance Committee, the Senate half of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, met briefly this morning to introduce a bill and refer it to the Education Committee. The measure, from Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, lays out state requirements for high school wireless networks to qualify for state funding. That’s part of the new approach endorsed by JFAC for high school wireless networks next year: In addition to funding the existing contract that state schools Superintendent Tom Luna signed with Education Networks of America in July, JFAC allowed school districts that declined to participate in the contract to get their share of state funding to apply to their own wireless networks. It also allowed schools that are in the network now to opt out if they choose, and qualify for the state funding for their own networks.
The JFAC legislation would grant those school districts $21 per student – the same rate the state is paying ENA – if their wireless networks meet state standards. So the new bill outlines those standards, including coverage from any instructional and administrative area in the school, roaming connectivity while moving from room to room, and full service in media centers, assembly spaces, libraries and administration areas.
The bill also addresses content filtering and security, and requires the State Department of Education to develop requirements for functionality, performance and reliability.