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Senate committee shelves $1M school technology bill

Published: Tuesday, March 4 2014 7:25 p.m. MST

Members of the Senate Education Committee failed to approve a bill calling for $1 million in ongoing funding to provide technology grants to schools. (Shutterstock) Members of the Senate Education Committee failed to approve a bill calling for $1 million in ongoing funding to provide technology grants to schools. (Shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY — With the eyes of the Legislature turned toward a $200 million proposal to fund learning devices in schools, members of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday halted a smaller $1 million technology proposal.

Sponsor Rep. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, described his bill, HB249, as a "minnow against the whale," referring to the much-larger and heavily discussed HB131, House Speaker Becky Lockhart's proposal for a major investment in school technology.

Anderegg said he would be remiss to not pursue his bill in the event that HB131 runs into roadblocks during the session.

"This may be an inadvertent fall-back position for technology in schools," he said.

But committee members questioned the efficacy of providing technology grants to schools without checks on how the devices would be used.

"I don’t see that the schools need to put skin in the game," Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, said of the bill language. "I don’t see that there’s any kind of metric by which we’re measuring what the schools are doing with them."

Anderegg said the bill would not remove the existing checks on school performance, such as proficiency standards and school grading. Beyond that, he said, the schools would need to demonstrate their plans to implement technology in order to be awarded grant funding.

"This doesn’t prohibit us from using common sense," Anderegg said.

The bill ultimately failed in a 2-3 vote of the committee.

— Benjamin Wood

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