NEA: Schools Need $53.7 Billion in Technology

WASHINGTON (05/05/2000) - Equipping the nation's public schools with modern technology will cost $53.7 billion, according to a National Education Association report.

The total needed to modernize public schools is $321.9 billion, the report says, though that figure includes non-technology needs such as building repairs.

The School Modernization Needs Assessment collected and analyzed data from research literature, research 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 says 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 the 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 the 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 allowing teachers and administrators to make use of new technologies.

-- Each states must assess its schools' needs and draft a plan of action that includes cost estimates.

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