Sen. Dial’s School Technology/Tablet Bill Passes Senate Committee

By Gerald Dial

On Wednesday, the Alabama Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee gave a favorable report (i.e., passed out of committee) to Senate Bill 1, co-sponsored by Senators Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) and Jim McClendon (R-Springville). SB1 proposes to amend and strengthen the Alabama Ahead Act, which was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley in 2012.

The original legislation authorized the State Department of Education to begin buying electronic tablets and laptop computers to replace textbooks in classrooms. However, the 2012 legislation required that the tablets be pen-enabled and the plan would have been funded with a bond issue.

“The 2012 Alabama Ahead Act was a good idea, but it needed some improvements to be accessible by all school systems,” said Senator Dial. “It’s imperative that the we put quality electronic tablets and laptops in our classrooms. This will improve education outcomes for our kids and save taxpayers money.”

Given the advancement of touch-screen technologies in tablets and computers, SB1 proposes to delete the electronic pen requirement in the 2012 Act. SB1 will also fund the Act through the Education Trust Fund instead of a bond issue. SB1 will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.

“Funding classroom technology and electronic textbooks through the budget process is a smart and fiscally responsible approach,” remarked Sen. Dial. “We need to do this because schools in Piedmont have seen great success using tablets and computers in the classroom. I’m excited to see this program expand across the state. The digital revolution has put a world of knowledge at our fingertips – and our kids need a way to access that knowledge.”

Senator Gerald Dial represents District 13 in the Alabama Senate, which includes all or parts of Randolph, Lee, Cleburne, Clay, Cherokee, and Chambers counties. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. Gerald and his wife Faye reside in Lineville.