Boise School District, which bristled at state schools chief Tom Lunas proposal in 2011 to give every high school kid a laptop, has signed onto his statewide program to pay to install wireless equipment in high schools and junior highs.
Boise is among 114 schools districts and charter schools to take up Lunas offer for wireless access under a contract for which he has been criticized by lawmakers and others.
At its core, this is an infrastructure project, not a device project, said Don Coberly, Boise superintendent. We believe that its much more appropriate for the state to help us build a highway than to tell us what kind of cars we need to buy.
Of eligible districts and charter schools, 83 percent have opted in to the statewide contract, Education Department officials said. That covers 203 schools and 90,000 students. Cost per school will be about $10,344.
Approximately 60 percent of the original 333 schools listed in the request for bids are signed up. But state officials say the number included middle schools that will not be eligible. The total number of schools that could receive assistance is about 249, said Melissa McGrath, department spokesman. That number could change as new schools are built.
Schools should be connected by March.
Other participating Treasure Valley districts include Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Kuna and Middleton.
The response for state help with wireless installation shows it is clear schools are eager for this connectivity so they can provide teachers with the tools and resources necessary to meet the needs of every student, said Luna.
Luna was criticized by lawmakers and others for his handling of the contract, which opponents said went to a company that had political ties to the superintendent.
State Sen. Dean Cameron, co-chair of the Legislatures budget committee, complained Luna used $2.5 million in one-time money appropriated by lawmakers to sign a multiyear contract of up to 15 years with Education Networks of America. Cameron said he wants a resolution to the contract dispute and wont rule out seeking to defund the program when lawmakers meet in January.
Minidoka County School District, which is in Camerons legislative district, has opted in to the state-funded wireless installation.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts