By Jamie Fry
SD Broadband Initiative Technology Planning Manager
SD Bureau of Information and Telecommunications
Concerned About Funding for Technology?
The New Year brings about many things for South Dakota school districts. Itís a celebrated midpoint to our school year and the halls are bustling with students and teachers getting busy with the second semester, hopefully rested and ready to go from the holiday break.
Another sure sign of the New Year is the arrival of legislators and lobbyists in South Dakotaís Capitol. This year, on Jan. 10, the South Dakota State Legislature will convene for 35 days. One important topic, that Iím sure youíre all familiar with is the state budget.
The last couple years, the state legislature has been forced to make some tough decisions regarding budget cuts. As a result of these decisions, we have witnessed a few technology-based services, provided to South Dakota schools by the South Dakota Department of Education, get cut. Some examples are the state funding for the Classroom Connections Laptop Initiative, service and warranty contracts for distance learning video units, bandwidth upgrades and more.
A couple years ago, a group of technology coordinators formed the K12 Technology Advocacy Group. The purpose of this group is to answer questions that legislators or elected officials may have regarding technology in the K12 schools and to be proactive in sharing how proposals may affect technology/and or services in schools. Oftentimes, legislators are unaware of the impact of budget cuts, or donít fully understand the technologies that those funds provide for South Dakotaís schools. This groupís goal is to open lines of communication so that legislators can make more informed decisions based on local school needs.
Some of the services that the state is able to provide with this funding include broadband Internet connectivity, email services, video distance learning, onsite and remote technical support by the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, K12 Data Center help desk, antivirus and network security, content filtering, DDN Campus Student Information System and much more. All of these are presently offered at no cost to the school districts, but if DDN budget cuts were to continue, that could change.
If you are interested in joining the K-12 Technology Advocacy Group, contact Aileen Brunner at firstname.lastname@example.org