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Testimony relating to the Community and School Technology Bill

Testimony of Beth Lowd, Coordinator of BEST, re H.4302

before the House and Senate Committees on Science and Technology,


Chairwoman Harkins and Chairman Magnani, and committee members: I am a volunteer here representing Business and Education for Schools and Technology, a coalition of 24 organizations that support technology in the schools of the Commonwealth. We are in favor of House 4302.


We are delighted that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have filed this bill to establish a board of directors for and a trust fund to support the Massachusetts Community Network. Last session we worked hard to obtain funding for the network, and although the Senate passed the full $15M for it and the House $10M, the Governor funded only $5M.  It’s great to see the administration supporting the network now with these needed structures.


This year the remaining funding that is required is part of the very popular Community and School Technology Bill (H.4265, S.1395), which has 130 co-sponsors. We trust the administration’s new bill, H.4302, is an indication of its support for the whole bill, not only the network itself, but also the matching grants that will bring significant money to schools all over the state to train teachers to use that network effectively and to provide for students and teachers the up-to-date hardware they will need to take full advantage of the network’s power.  The grants will provide an incentive for local spending, requiring three local dollars for every one from the state, using a formula that was successfully employed three years ago in the Educational Technology Bond Bill which created five times the state’s investment.


I need not remind you that these are wise investments in the future. Knowledge of computer tools helps people obtain better jobs. Our industries need such workers to prosper. The effort to provide this high speed low-cost network to every part of our state and to train teachers to use it effectively cannot help but translate into educational attainment and job readiness for our youth and for those who use the computers in our libraries and state offices.


I would like to mention that I hope the Governor will appoint to Massachusetts Community Network’s board of directors some members who represent the users. I also hope there will be attention to creating a committee of users from various constituencies that can advise the board of their needs.


This is a good bill. Please report it out favorably.                6/3/99 BTL

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