The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee met on Thursday morning to vote on two pieces of language that outline the intent of the legislature regarding funding for wireless technology and the state instructional improvement system. For a second time, committee members delayed a decision on the state’s Wi-Fi system after Sen. Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls) requested a one day delay to allow time for further research when questions were raised about the wireless technology infrastructure standards school districts would be required to meet or exceed before accessing the funds. The committee will meet again on Friday to finalize the budget.
JFAC did elect to approve language assuring school districts and the Department of Education will have the flexibility needed to effectively operate their instructional improvement system. JFAC members agreed unanimously to give the State Superintendent $4.5 million for maintenance and operation of the current “ISEE Phase II” system, with spending capped at $1.6 million for assessment, training, professional development, licensing, etc. Additionally, districts will receive a portion of $2 million in state funding they can use to select the instructional improvement system that works best for them, as long as that system interfaces with the state’s longitudinal data system.