NEA: Schools need $53.7 billion in technology

Equipping the nation's public schools with modern technology will cost $53.7

billion, according to a National Education Association report.

The total amount needed to modernize public schools is $321.9 billion,

the report said, although that figure includes non-technology needs such

as building repairs.

The School Modernization Needs Assessment collected and analyzed data from

research literature, databases, an annual NEA survey of state school finance

legislation and a questionnaire sent to NEA affiliates in 50 states. However,

because only three states had exact figures for their technology needs,

the NEA used other data to estimate costs for the other states.

The report said the number is higher than a previous U.S. General Accounting

Office report ("School Facilities: The Condition of America's Schools"),

which estimated the total as $112 billion, because GAO's research did not

have enough data to estimate the need for all 50 states.

The top five states with the most unmet funding for technology represent

more than 40 percent of the total. California represents 20 percent of the

total with $10.9 billion in unmet funding, followed by Texas ($4.2 billion),

New York ($3 billion), Florida ($2.2 billion) and Illinois ($2.1 billion).

The state with the least amount of unmet funding is Wyoming, with $103.5

million.

The report makes four recommendations:

* Some states can use current budget surpluses to fix some problems,

but for a full, long-term solution, a permanent funding structure must be

established.

* The federal government must expand its funding to cover modernization.

* Funding for professional development and technical support are critical

to ensuring that teachers and administrators can make use of new technologies.

* Each state must assess its schools' needs and draft a plan of action

that includes cost estimates.

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