Senate Republicans: Making the case for taking school computers off Kentucky's credit card

03/27/2014 09:39 PM

Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, decided it wasn’t worth it to put on Kentucky’s credit card $50 million worth of computers to be paid off over 10 years when the computers would become out-dated within three or four years.

So Givens suggested a way to move the $6.6 million a year tagged to pay the bond debt service on the school technology bond fund to potentially leverage faster internet access to more schools — and more technology.

It was one of a litany of the differences between the House and Senate budgets that were debated Thursday in Day 2 of the conference committee called to hammer out a compromise.

The Senate version of the state’s $20 billion two-year spending plan for schools and most state agencies adopted Givens’ suggestions. He proposed using $800,000 of the $6.6 million for a statewide IT Academy that provides curriculum, training and credentialing for computer-related classes. And under his plan, the remaining $5.8 million would go to help the Kentucky Department of Education buy more bandwidth for schools.

Givens explained the research behind his decision and how he wants to see the money spent in this interview Thursday in his Frankfort office:

Overall, Givens called this next two year budget “the very best budget, in general, I’ve seen in the last six years.”

Thursday night, during the second night of budget negotiations, Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington and the chair of the House K-12 budget subcommittee, said she wanted to make sure some schools that were close to making computer purchases would be able to do so.

But Givens and Flood seemed to be on the same page about being able to designate some money to that from flexible funds districts would have to purchase new textbooks or devices such as tablets and iPads.

“I think we have some common ground here,” Flood said. “This one feels like we can get somewhere quickly.”

However, the conference committee moved on to go through other differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget and will return to the school technology issue later.

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