TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – Florida schools may be trading in heavy textbooks for high tech tomes under a budget proposal approved by lawmakers Monday.
SB 2120 would require all Florida schools to adopt digital textbooks by the 2015-16 school year and spend at least 50 percent of their textbook budget on digital materials by that time, according to The News Service of Florida.
Pilot programs will be set up beginning next year to test the electronic textbooks.
“Everyone realizes that digital seems to be the wave of the future and in many respects, the future is now,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, who helped craft the education budget.
Some Florida schools are pushing back at the approaching deadline, saying their schools were hit so hard by budget cuts, few think the proposal is within reach.
Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, says he supports the initiative, but worries about keeping the schools afloat.
“The issue is always the same, which is how do you afford it?” Montford said. “We have to be careful that we don’t expect school districts to enter into a program that is not funded.”
The proposal is part of a larger educational budget bills that were both the House and Senate produced earlier in the session. The Senate opted for a more gradual phasing in of the proposal, which would gradually introduce the technology through pilot programs. The House wanted to be more aggressive, placing a 2013-14 deadline to make the switch. The two chambers eventually agreed on a compromise.
If signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, Florida would be one of the first states in the country to set up a timeline for digital textbook conversion.
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