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Idaho Alters School WiFi Deal

Under pressure from legislators, the state Education Department and the company it selected to provide WiFi to high schools statewide have agreed that payment should be made only for services provided. The change, announced Friday, marks a major shift in a controversial contract with Education Networks of America that would have paid the Nashville-based company a flat fee regardless of how many schools it served. Savings could drop the value of the total contract from $2.11 million to $1.89 million for the first year and key lawmakers say other potential changes could be in the works/Betsy Russell, SR. More here.

Thoughts?

54% Of Schools Seek State WiFI

182 of 340 eligible schools have signed up to participate in the state's new statewide high school WiFi contract, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced this morning; schools had until midnight last night to decide whether or not to opt in for the service. That's 54 percent of the eligible schools, which include all high schools, junior highs or middle schools in the state that serve students in grades 9 through 12. With an annual cost of $2,111,655 and 182 schools participating, the state's cost per school next year will be $11,603/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Are you satisfied with percentage of Idaho high schools that signed up for state-sponsored WiFi?

Luna: No Politics In WiFi Contract

Item: School Wi-Fi contract defended: State schools chief: No political influence involved/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: Idaho public schools superintendent Tom Luna said Thursday that the now controversial contract for Wi-Fi service in the state's high schools was developed according to the specific directives of the Idaho Legislature. Luna defended the process his department used in structuring the contract and awarding it to Education Networks of America, a Nashville firm. He claims there was no political influence in the selection of ENA. Critics have said the company was chosen because it made financial contributions to election campaigns for Luna and several state lawmakers

Question: Why didn't you believe me when I told you that there was no political influence involved in the 15-year contract awarded by Superintendent Luna to a campaign contributor?

Luna Awards Possible $33.3M Wifi Pact

Idaho state schools Superintendent Tom Luna has awarded a multimillion-dollar wireless contract to Education Networks of America, choosing the Nashville, Tenn. firm to provide WiFi in every Idaho high school for up to the next 15 years; the contract could cost the state up to $33.3 million over that time. “Wireless internet access is a critical component of the 21st century classroom so teachers can integrate the technology they need in the classroom,” Luna said in a statement; you can read his full statement here/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Eye on Boise rdp of Luna wifi contract activity today:

Question: And Idaho lawmakers followed Luna slack-jawed over the cliff when he announced his failed education reforms why?

Luna Pushing Ahead w/Wifi Contract

Idaho schools Superintendent Tom Luna still plans to go ahead with awarding a multi-year, multimillion-dollar contract for high school WiFi today, according to his spokeswoman, Melissa McGrath. “I hope it’s today – we’re just finalizing it, but hopefully within the next couple of hours,” McGrath said just before 2 p.m. Boise time. She said the contract, with an initial term of five years and two options to extend up to 15 years, will be at a fixed price per year, regardless of how many Idaho high schools participate. “As of yesterday, 44 districts have opted in,” McGrath said. “We don’t know, to be honest, how many are going to opt in the first year. … They ultimately have the choice at the local level”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Izzit just me — or is Superintendent Luna out of control … again (and this time he doesn't have GOP apologists circling the wagons around him)?

Solons At Odds w/Luna Wifi Contract

Idaho state schools chief Tom Luna is about to sign a 15-year, multimillion-dollar contract for a private company to set up Wi-Fi networks in every high school in the state, even though the Legislature never approved the move. Luna is scheduled to award the contract today. The finalists include Education Networks of America, a company that was awarded a contract, later canceled, under the voter-rejected Students Come First laws last year to do the same thing. “It was part of a Senate bill that we should do a statewide contract,” said Melissa McGrath, Luna’s spokeswoman. But the bill she cited was Senate Bill 1200, the public school budget. It allocated $2.25 million to set up wireless infrastructure in Idaho high schools next year and said nothing about a long-term contract. The request for proposals doesn’t include amounts, but if the contract stayed at $2.25 million a year, it would cost the state $11.25 million over five years and $33.75 million over the full 15 years/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: I ♥ wifi. But I can't help but think that Luna has stepped beyond bounds of standard operating procedure by pulling this rabbit out of his hat without keeping Legislature in the loop. What do you think?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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