So it can better justify asking the state and private business for donations, Utah's Education Technology Initiative steering committee has decided to get down to specifics on what it is trying to accomplish.
Creation of a subcommittee to tackle the task was approved Thursday, in response to a private consultant's report that pointed out that initiative organizers will find it difficult to raise money unless it can account for how it will be spent.Initiative finance committee chairman Robert Garff said the the goal of supplying public schools with computers to help students prepare for the real world is worthy. But the program's goal of needing $220 million worth of high-tech computer gadgetry came "out of the air."
The committee also agreed with the consultant that raising $40 million in private donations is a bit ambitious and somewhat unrealistic, even with a business plan. A suggestion was made that discounts from computer vendors could be considered the same as cash donations.
Garf said the steering committee must come up with a detailed plan that will explain how much money is needed and why, and how schools will account for using it.
"Businesses are concerned about the black holes in education," Garff said, noting a donation of computer equipment his family made to the Granite School District only to find the district had no software for it or a specific plan to use it.
"It was a nice, warm fuzzy thing for the students, but nothing was accomplished," he said.
However, committee representatives from other districts cited examples of public school and private business partnerships that do work and have the support of private office.
The subcommittee was urged to consider district autonomy within a state-administered Education Technology Initiative while developing objectives for the program.