Educational technology advocates in Nevada would be happy just to maintain state funding levels for their cause, says Mark S. Knudson, the educational technology specialist for the state education department.
Gov. Kenny Guinn’s two-year budget—which will cover the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years—proposed $10 million for educational technology, keeping the level consistent with the $9.95 million budgeted for the previous two-year period.
Because of a lack of funding increases, Knudson says, the state did not start any major school technology initiatives during the 2004-05 school year.
The legislature had not yet approved the governor’s spending proposal, but the state’s Commission on Educational Technology, an advisory group appointed by the governor and the legislature, was already planning how the money should be spent. The commission recommends that 40 percent of the aid go toward infrastructure, and that 20 percent go toward building high-quality digital content. In addition, 15 percent would be allotted for professional development, 10 percent for evaluation of programs, 8 percent for technical support, and 7 percent for state-sponsored pilot projects.
In the 280,800-student Clark County school district—which includes Las Vegas and is the state’s largest district—officials have seen an increased interest, meanwhile, in distance learning. Enrollment in the district’s online high school jumped 40 percent between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years, says Jhone Ebert, the director of the district’s magnet schools and distance education.
Clark County’s virtual school offers high school courses to students enrolled in the district, or in charter and private schools in the area. Students from other districts in the state can take the online courses if their school boards have signed agreements with the Clark County system to pay the district a fee for each of their students who take online courses.