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The cost of putting an electronic device in the hands of every Utah public school student could range from $177 million to $434 million.
Apple iPads could be pricey, legislative fiscal analysts told members of the Utah Education Task Force Tuesday.
Instead, the state could settle for Google's much cheaper, stripped-down Chromebook.
Legislative task force members have focused on school technology during their monthly meetings since a bill to launch a statewide modernization program stalled during the legislative session.
That measure, a priority of outgoing House Speaker Becky Lockhart, a Provo Republican, was scuttled amid concerns over its estimated $300 million price tag.
But lawmakers have continued to express interest in a large-scale investment in 21st century learning technology.
"This is exciting to think we could begin to give these students education in the realm they're used to, rather than having to come back to the 19th century to enter the classroom," Draper Republican Sen. Howard Stephenson said Tuesday.
Utah's public schools are the lowest-funded in the country on a per-pupil basis and some education organizations have expressed concern about which programs would be sacrificed to pay the cost of personal learning devices.
Legislative analyst Ben Leishman told task force members the program could be funded over a four-year rollout period, bringing the annual cost to a range of roughly $44 million to $108 million.
The cost ranges could change once lawmakers determine what type of device to buy for each student, whether to pay teachers for extra days they spend training to use the new technology and the kinds of infrastructure upgrades required at each school.
Task force members also reviewed Tuesday a spreadsheet of new revenues that could be generated through incremental changes to the state's tax code, but they did not talk about tax increases.
Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, suggested that lawmakers first need to decide whether the state will pursue a learning device initiative and then how that initiative will be structured and funded.
He said the public education system would benefit by being able to prepare in advance for the arrival of new school technology.
"Instead of waiting to see if we're going to get funding, there needs to be a message and it needs to be a consensus in the Legislature that we're going to do this," Reid said.