ATLANTA — Local school systems could buy electronic readers instead of textbooks under a bill that passed the Georgia Senate on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Cecil Staton, would still have to pass the House of Representatives and get the governor’s signature to take effect. Then, the state Board of Education would have to sign off on the change to give local school boards the option of buying Kindles, iPads and other next-generation devices in lieu of bound books.
All of a student’s books could be loaded into one device, which could be used for years. There was some concern Tuesday how the change would affect poorer systems, but Staton, R-Macon, said the goal is to give local school boards flexibility when it comes to spending state education dollars.
“I have two teens,” Staton said. “I know how kids learn today. It’s not the way I learned.”
A similar but broader bill has been filed in the House, and it will probably be passed out of committee this week, said Brooks Coleman, chairman of the House Education Committee. Coleman, R-Duluth, said he likes the idea of allowing local school boards to decide what to buy instead of sticking to state mandates.
“That should be a local decision,” he said.
Staton’s bill passed the Senate on Tuesday on a vote of 45-5. State senators from Macon and the surrounding area voted for it except for state Sen. Ross Tolleson, R-Perry, who was absent and excused during the vote.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate, said he was for the bill.
“We talk a lot about bringing Georgia’s government into the 21st century, streamlining government and using the latest technology,” Cagle said in an e-mailed statement. “Senator Staton’s bill is another great example of our effort to do just that.”
School flexibility bills have been popular in this young session of the Georgia General Assembly.
Cuts to education funding have resulted in furlough days for educators, and politicians are looking for new ways to let local boards decide what to fund and what not to.
For example: State School Superintendent Kathy Cox is asking the Legislature to approve mass waivers for systems to make it easier for them to increase class sizes to save money.
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 361-2702.