House Bill 576 — School technology grants program

House Bill 576 — School technology grants program

by
Wayne Hoffman
March 3, 2020

Bill description: House Bill 576 would repurpose a school technology grant program for “digital curriculum.” 

Rating: +1

Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government? 

HB 576 would replace a technology grant program with a digital curriculum grant program. Both involve public schools. In repealing an existing program and replacing it with a new one, this has a rating of zero in the Idaho Freedom Index. Unlike House Bill 481, the proposed grant program in House Bill 576 does not give the State Department of Education new powers over school district curriculum. Rather, the bill makes the department’s role administrative only.

(0)

Does it increase government redistribution of wealth? Examples include the use of tax policy or other incentives to reward specific interest groups, businesses, politicians, or government employees with special favors or perks; transfer payments; and hiring additional government employees. Conversely, does it decrease government redistribution of wealth? 

While House Bill 481 proposed a grant program that would “give priority” to school districts with the “highest number of economically disadvantaged students,” these provisions have been removed from the new House Bill 576. 

(0)

Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?

House Bill 576 would have local school districts apply for grants with specific, measurable goals  in mind. The bill says “additional distributions shall be granted to an LEA (local education agency) only if, after the initial distribution, the LEA has met or is making demonstrable progress toward its measurable targets.” How well this provision is enforced remains to be seen, but on the surface, this language provides a level of accountability not seen in other statutes that distribute money to public schools.

(+1)

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