The chairman of the state Board of Education wants the state to come up with millions for technology upgrades. Chairman Gery J. Chico will ask lawmakers to set aside $250 million. He says the situation is dire: Only 25 percent of Illinois public schools have the infrastructure for online learning, and only 31 percent of the devices in use have the capacity for online learning and testing, according to a 2012 assessment.
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“Imagine Illinois trying to compete – imagine the United States trying to compete – if millions of students have never been properly taught to use technology, and this in the information age,” he told an audience today (Tuesday) at the City Club of Chicago. What the state needs, he says, is broadband connections for schools, technology infrastructure, devices for students, and trained teachers.
He is eying $176 million not yet allocated from a 2003 school construction bond program, which was originally worth $930 million, as the bulk of the money for the Technology Fund. All the schools that had been approved for funding from the program have received it, though there will be districts that don’t regard that money as surplus, since they have applied for it and not yet gotten approval.