The legislation appropriating $11.9 million to the State Office of Education for educational technology does not allow for any of the money to go to the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind.
The schools have complained that their handicapped children have been excluded from the technology program being pursued by the state. Both last year and again this year, the special schools did not receive a share of the technology money provided by the state."It's unforgivable that we're being excluded again," said Helen Post, a member of the schools' Institutional Council.
However, HB344, which appropriated the technology money, specifically instructs the State Office of Education to distribute the funds to the state's 40 school districts. A formula was worked out last year to give each district a base amount, plus additional money based on student numbers, said Jay Jeffrey, the state office financial officer.
The State Board of Education in its budget proposals for 1991-92 included a $500,000 request for additional technology money for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind and for the five area applied technology centers, but the Legislature did not appropriate money to cover that request, Jeffrey said.
The original plan for Utah's Educational Technology Initiative was for the state to provide $15 million a year for four years. The money was to be matched by a $5 million contribution from the local districts and $10 million from private contributions, plus vendor donations and discounts.
The 1991 Legislature, however, faced with budget constraints, cut the $15 million proposal to $13.1 million to be shared by public and higher education for the 1991-92 fiscal year.
Post said she believes the schools for the deaf and blind may have even more need for technology than schools that deal with normal children. She said the schools had hoped for about $650,000 in technology funding.
Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind Superintendent David West said he will meet with Jay B. Taggart, state superintendent of public instruction, to discuss the technology issues.
The schools for the deaf and blind did receive additional money from the 1991 Legislature to improve salaries. Teachers at the special schools have traditionally been paid less than teachers in the public school system. Because they require special skills for working with hearing- and sight-impaired students, recruiting is more difficult, West said.
More than a half million dollars in additional funds for the special schools will allow for a 6 percent salary increase above the increase granted public school employees.
At the end of the 1991 legislative session, when the Legislature failed to pass a bonding bill, the state schools also were left without an expected $2 million to continue the consolidation of the Ogden campuses.
However, that money is expected to be part of a bonding bill that will be considered during a special session of the Legislature next month, West said.