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Hawaii plan would give all students computers

Aloha State would give every public school students a laptop or tablet by 2015

Children in kindergarten through eighth grade would be provided with computer tablets.

The Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) wants to provide every public school student in the state with a laptop or tablet computer by 2015 as part of an initiative that also would include training teachers on the devices and buying digital materials that reflect new national Common Core standards for math and reading.

The department is asking for $42 million over the next two years to kick off the ambitious plan, aimed at standardizing curricula across the state, modernizing classroom instruction, and phasing out printed textbooks.

“This gives a true statement about how committed we are to making sure our students are college- and career-ready,” said Amy Kunz, DOE chief financial officer.

The funding request for the one-to-one computing program is included in a wish list of sorts for the coming fiscal biennium, which was sent to the Governor’s Office last week.

See also:

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Also in the proposed budget request, above and beyond the DOE’s current base budget of $1.35 billion, was $12.9 million in fiscal year 2013 to tackle projected increases in enrollment, $5 million over the next two fiscal years for bonuses to teachers in “hard to fill” positions, and $8 million in each of the next two years for student transportation costs.

Altogether, the wish list items would cost an additional $40.5 million in fiscal year 2013 and an extra $35.7 million in fiscal year 2014.

Kunz added that because the laptops and tablets would be leased, probably for three-year periods, the initiative likely will require additional appropriations.

“It’s going to be a continuous item that we are going to build into our budget,” she said.

But Board of Education Chairman Don Horner stressed that it is still early in the budgetary process and that there will have to be discussions with the executive and legislative branches to determine whether the one-to-one computing program is the best use of taxpayer dollars.

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