Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lawmakers: Luna Jumped the Gun In Multi-Year Wi-Fi Deal For Idaho Schools

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna didn't follow instructions, according to some Idaho lawmakers, pointing to Luna's new five-year deal with a statewide Wi-Fi contractor (with an option to extend to 15 years), when we was told that the state would only fund one year at a time.

Luna announced the July 24 contract with Education Networks of America would equip hundreds of Idaho high schools with wireless Internet access. The contract has an initial five year term, but options could renew the deal for a stretch of 15 years.

But both the chair and vice chair of the Idaho Senate Finance Committee were taken aback by Luna's announcement. The chairman, Rupert Republican Sen. Dean Cameron, told the Spokesman-Review that "Luna's move shows a lack of judgment" and was "certainly a stretch, and perhaps borderline on a lack of honesty."

"We did not agree and probably would not have agreed to a multiyear contract during last session, particularly given the financial straits that we believed we were under," Cameron told the Spokesman-Review.

The Associated Press reports that vice chair Sandpoint Republican Sen. Shawn Keough expressed equal concern.

"That seems like that ought to be homework we need to be doing ahead of awarding a contract like this," she said, referring to the uncertainty of how many Idaho schools would actually secure the wireless service.

To date, 83 of the state's 340 high schools have opted into the Wi-Fi service to be provided by ENA, according to the State Department of Education.

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