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Eye On Boise

Service audit on school WiFi contract raises questions

Seven school districts opted out of a statewide high school WiFi system to write their own contracts last year – but still, the contractor for the statewide system received more than $238,000 for work in those districts, Idaho EdNews reports. That’s one finding from a state audit of the controversial 2013 WiFi contract, presented Thursday morning to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee; some of that money will come back to the state. The contract is separate from the troubled Idaho Education Network, which was intended as a broadband network linking Idaho high schools; the WiFi contract, signed with the same vendor as the IEN – Education Networks of America – pays for WiFi systems within the schools, at an anticipated state cost of more than $2 million a year.

Last year, lawmakers who were concerned that former state schools Superintendent Tom Luna signed a long-term, multimillion-dollar contract with ENA for the WiFi when the Legislature had authorized only one year’s worth of funding, gave options to school districts: If they didn’t want to be part of the statewide contract with ENA, they could get state funding for their own WiFi services. The new audit report looks at how all that’s been working thus far. Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert has a full report here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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