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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

House committee moves bill to give Florida schools flexibility with book funds



Computer Florida educators have talked for years about the need to modernize technology in the schools so children can get the most up-to-date education. The problem has been money.

The House Pre-K-12 Policy Committee took steps Wednesday morning to free up some of the money that school districts use for textbooks for instructional technology. HB 623 would give districts more of that desired "flexibility" to spend as they see fit to achieve the outcomes that the Legislature has demanded.

"Maybe we're getting to the point where we need to get back to a technology categorical," Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said in supporting the bill. "In the meantime, we can't all just sit around ... and say we want to do it but we just can't."

The bill did raise concerns, though, among some lawmakers from more rural areas. Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, noted that some counties still cannot get books for every student. She urged sponsor Rachel Burgin, R-Brandon, to consider language that would require districts to buy books first.

"Then, if there is money left, give them flexibility," said Coley, a teacher. "I think you will always have a need for a book as well as technology."

Only two representatives, Democrats Marty Kiar of Davie and Elaine Schwartz of Hollywood, voted against moving the bill to its next stop. They argued that the concept was a good one, but not at a time when the economy is stagnating.

Others signaled they might not be so willing to support the bill in the future if some adjustments like the one Coley spoke about are not made.

(Times file photo)


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:53am]


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