Connecting classrooms: How does Idaho stack up?

Linda Clark had a front-row seat to listen to President Obama last month — and hear his administration’s challenge to carry technologies into the nation’s schools.

The message was “heartening,” the West Ada School District superintendent mentioned. In some locations, Idaho is ahead of the game in other places, Idaho is playing catchup. But the administration’s vision is steady with what West Ada is striving to do.

linda clark

Linda Clark

Clark was 1 of one hundred superintendents invited to a Nov. 19 White Property summit on college technological innovation — a possibility for district leaders to share their experiences in modernizing their colleges. Clark was the only Idaho superintendent at the summit.

The occasion was an offshoot of Obama’s 2013 Connected Initiative — with the purpose of providing 99 % of college students with classroom broadband inside of 5 many years. Currently, fewer than 30 percent of the nation’s schools have adequate broadband.

In this region, Idaho is “lucky,” Clark mentioned. The Idaho Training Network has presently brought broadband into the state’s large schools. Nonetheless, the task contract remains embroiled in controversy a district judge tossed out the $ 60 million contract final month, and a consequence of the lawsuit, federally administered funding has been on hold considering that early 2013.

Even when broadband is in location, that is only part of the equation. The White House’s initiative has evolved to focus on three other areas: coaching teachers to use engineering successfully bringing quality digital understanding articles into the schools and placing large-tech finding out products into the hands of students.

All three priorities are essential, Clark mentioned. And West Ada is trying to tackle all 3.

Even with funding challenges — West Ada’s per-pupil paying is 2nd-lowest in the nation, for schools with more than ten,000 college students — the district has been able to cobble with each other some income for technological innovation pilots. Meanwhile, the price tag of computing products is dropping swiftly the district is negotiating with vendors who could provide devices at $ 300 per pupil, a 50 percent lower from latest prices. Eventually, Clark believes Obama has set an attainable aim, of seeing the value of computing products in line with the expense of a textbook.

West Ada, and other Idaho districts, even now want state assist in getting digital articles and instruction teachers.

When the state minimize operational funding during the Economic downturn, districts had fewer totally free bucks to get understanding supplies, Clark explained. The 2014 Legislature restored $ 35 million in operational funding, but it is expected to value an extra $ 78 million to reverse the rest of the cuts.

Instructor coaching time also fell victim to Recession-era budget cuts. West Ada, the state’s largest school district, has been unable to restore 5 specialist development days to its calendar.

“We really need investment in all 3 of these locations,” Clark explained.

Despite these economic challenges, Clark came away from the summit believing her district and state is ready to give a connected understanding atmosphere. “I think Idaho colleges are quite effectively poised to grab this and run.”

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