SD6 - Technical Report: State Funding Formula for Educational Technology

Executive Summary:
The 2002 General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 87, which directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to develop a State funding formula for educational technology and technology support personnel. This report responds to SJR 87 by providing illustrative funding options for the General Assembly to consider if it wishes to more explicitly support educational technology through the use of a funding formula. The report does not recommend a specific level of technology funding that is justified in schools, as this is a policy choice of the General Assembly. Rather, the report explores how different aspects of educational technology could be addressed through a funding formula.

The report was presented at the September 8, 2003, JLARC meeting. Although a number of JLARC members commented favorably on the quality of staff work that went into the report, several members expressed concern over whether there is a need for the funding options identified in the report. Commission members therefore voted to receive the report and authorize printing, but not to approve the report.

During FY 2002, school divisions reported spending a total of $368.8 million on their educational technology programs. The State has assisted school divisions in funding their technology costs through specified State initiatives and indirectly through the Standards of Quality (SOQ). The report estimates that, based on FY 2002 expenditure data, the State has provided between $84 million and $110 million annually for educational technology through the SOQ. The State has also provided significant funding through State initiatives, primarily the Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) Technology Initiative. In recent years, the General Assembly has authorized approximately $58 million annually for this program.

The purpose of this study is to provide funding formula options that would allow the State to more directly and explicitly address educational technology funding. The report, therefore, provides funding formula options across a variety of areas where school divisions make technology-related expenditures. These areas include technology integration specialists and technical support staff, as well as hardware replacement and other non-personnel costs. The report assumes that any funding that has been provided through the SOQ could be used to help support the technology funding options included in the report. There are no assumptions as to whether funding from existing State initiatives, such as the VPSA Technology Initiative, would be redirected to offset the cost of the funding formula options.