Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brandon lawmaker supports tech-savvy school spending

In the workplace, keyboards and computer monitors replaced typewriters. Smartphones eclipsed rotary phones, and e-mail trumps handwritten letters.

But in schools, the cornerstone of instruction is the same as for previous generations: the paper-and-ink textbook.

However, recently passed legislation supported by state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Brandon, would allow school districts to spend extra textbook money on educational technology. Starting in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, school districts will be able to spend leftover textbook money on approved educational devices, which will include educational software and some hardware such as computers or other equipment.

Hillsborough County will receive $15,254,961 for instructional materials for the 2010-2011 school year, said Connie Milito, chief government relations officer with Hillsborough County School District. It's difficult to know how much of that could be left over once schools buy textbooks, Burgin said. Milito did not have exact figures available for how much money was left over after textbook spending this year, but said it has been a negligible amount in the past.

Still, Burgin said she believed the time had come for a more tech-savvy spending plan.

"I think that we are definitely in a digital world," Burgin said. "A lot of things that we are doing in our educational system needs to move toward making sure we are ready for our young people to move into the workforce."

When Burgin talked to school faculty, she said many of them told her they didn't feel caught up to the rest of the world in the technology they used. In the past, school districts were banned from taking textbook manufacturer deals that would include hardware with textbooks. The legislation allows for that type of textbook bundling, Burgin said.

Jim Hamilton, a consultant with the school district and the district's former chief of staff, said the textbook will remain the backbone of teaching for the foreseeable future. However, the legislation will enable school districts to make purchases that may help improve teaching.

"The school district is held accountable, often more than the student, for the students' performance," he said.

Susan Burkett, principal of Burns Middle School in Brandon, said she didn't feel the quality of education was diminished by previous restrictions on textbook spending. But she likes the flexibility offered by the plan.

"Let's face it, we live in a world that if we're not 3-D and in high-definition coming out of the chalkboard for the kids, they're not interested," Burkett said.

Students sometimes need more than the textbook resources that are traditionally offered to them, said Megan Allen, who teaches fourth grade at Cleveland Elementary in Tampa.

"I think our students are so inclined to use technology," she said. "And a lot of times technology is turned off when they enter the classroom."

Hilary Lehman can be reached at or (813) 661-2441.

Brandon lawmaker supports tech-savvy school spending 05/06/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 2:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Estimated 5,000 people marvel at MOSI over solar eclipse

    Human Interest

    Packing pinhole cereal box viewers, cardboard glasses and curiosity, solar gawkers gathered outside Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry on Monday for a show that required no ticket.

    At center, Sophia Butter, 8, and Kristina Butera, both of Valrico, watch the sun through eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. MOSI will reopen after renovations on November 18. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh


    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  3. Tampa officer treated for knee injury after police truck, police SUV collide


    Times staff

    TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was treated and released for a knee injury when his unmarked police truck collided with a patrol SUV while the officers were tracking a stolen car, a police spokesman said.

  4. Waiting for the eclipse: 'Everyone thinks this is cool'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Hunter Holland came to school Monday with a NASA space T-shirt and solar viewers in his button-up shirt pocket. But he'd rather be in Missouri.

    Jayda Hebert (front, center), 11, uses her protective glasses to watch Monday's solar eclipse with her cousin, Judah Adams (back left), 11, and her brother Jake Hebert (right), 9, while with their family at St. Petersburg Beach. "We're skipping school for the eclipse," her mom, Sarah Hebert, said. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Second person resigns from Hillsborough diversity council after Confederate activist appointed


    TAMPA — A second person has resigned symbolically from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the appointment of a known activist of Confederate causes to the panel. 

    Two people have resigned from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the inclusion of David McCallister, a leader of the local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.