The chairman of the Senate Education Committee wants the state to cut off a five- to 15-year sole-source contract with Education Networks of America to set up Wi-Fi networks in every Idaho high school.
Instead, Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur dAlene, wants to give the $2.25 million a year to school districts to contract for their own networks.
I would like to see the money sent down to school districts with a standard, saying the money is theirs to invest in wireless, he said. Anything left over after they meet that standard, they could use for other technology.
Some Idaho districts in this state have the technological expertise to deploy the wireless equipment on their own, not need the help-desk service and probably could buy the equipment for less than theyre leasing it for through the ENA contract, Goedde said.
Other smaller districts might need the full-service package, he said, but ENA is not their only option.
There may be other businesses locally that could provide a comparable package and have it competitively bid, Goedde said. Its very possible that they could save money and employ more Idaho people.
Goedde said part of his plan is to include a Wi-Fi standard that all the districts would have to meet when they spend the state funds. That would ensure quality service, he said, without a need for a statewide, sole-source contract.
ENA is based in Nashville, Tenn., and also has a Boise office. ENA officials did not respond to calls seeking comment.