After being dealt a financial setback for the 2003-04 school year, educational technology in Alabama is looking at a brighter future.
For 2004-05, the state restored the $8.4 million it provides in general technology aid for public schools. That line item was zeroed out for the 2003-04 school year.
The money is allotted per teacher; schools can either combine the money or allow individual teachers to spend it as they choose for technology-related purposes in the classroom.
The Alabama Virtual Library saw its budget rise by $1 million, to $3.5 million, for the current school year, with the extra money aimed at creating additional databases of materials such as encyclopedias, newspapers, and academic journals.
Along with funding those and other existing programs, Alabama could see a sizable increase in spending next school year, thanks to a rosier financial situation, according to state education officials.
Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, wants to vastly increase spending for the state’s Mathematics, Science, and Technology Initiative, from $238,000 to $15 million. The program seeks to improve math and science instruction through the use of technology.
Riley has also proposed spending $4.6 million for a new program to partially pay for the hiring of a technology coordinator for each of Alabama’s 129 school districts.
What’s more, Riley has proposed establishing a $10.3 million distance-learning program called ACCESS—an acronym for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide to allow students statewide to take part in additional classes via the Internet and videoconferencing.
The state has had a state-sponsored online school, which would be rolled into that program.