California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 37, No. 2
February-March, 1997

C-T-A-P Spells Opportunity

Funding: Legislation-based project provides for technology procurement for California's pupils.

Mike Caskey, Stanislaus County Office of Education

What is CTAP, and why is it of Interest to my school site, school district, or county office of education (pick one)? I have heard CTAP referred to as "free money". But I have also heard that "there ain't no free lunch". CTAP does provide opportunity for your school, district, or county office to gain some ground in the pursuit of technology.

The California Technology Assistance Project (CTAP) is essentially a response to Senate Bill 1510 (Morgan-Farr-Quackenbush Technology Act of 1992) which "has the primary mission of ensuring that the procurement and use of technology is clearly guided by the needs of pupils". Based on this bill, the Legislature has provided technology funding (and corresponding guidelines) for the students of California. Please note the word technology is used, not the word computer. The funding provided by this bill refers to any appropriate technology. Of course, the majority of today's technology involves the use of computers. As is the case with most state funded projects, this project is funded annually and could be dropped by the Legislature at any time.

There are three major components to the CTAP model: Grants for schools (for an individual school or two or more schools that join together) for the purpose of acquiring and using technology; Funding by Region; Funding of centralized services.

The first component is aimed at providing individual schools (or groups of schools) with a means to acquire and implement new technology. Schools qualifying for these grants receive $25.00 per ADA, but with a minimum grant of $4,000.00. This allows small schools to receive useful grants.

Regions, as defined by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), each receive funding based on student population for the purpose of regional activities geared toward the implementation of technology within that region. Within that broad guideline, each region has the responsibility to activate a region wide governing body, the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), which is responsible for overseeing those regional activities. Membership of the RCC may vary from region to region, but typically consists of representatives from County Offices, Districts, Schools, Businesses, and other groups and agencies that are active in California education. The key word in the implementation of this regional operation, and in fact throughout all CTAP related projects, is collaboration.

CTAP also provides funding for Central Services, which refers to projects that have state-wide implications, such as the Internet Technical Academy and the California Instructional Technology Clearinghouse. These projects provide information and training in technology across the state. The Central Services operations and the regional CTAP operations are monitored by the Education Council for Technology in Learning (ECTL) which consists of members from business and education.

The process for schools to apply for grants is relatively simple. The first step requires that a school (or group of schools) simply complete a one page form which indicates an intent to file for a CTAP grant. This Notice of Intent to Participate is filed with their CTAP region office, which is the County Office so designated within the region. The participating schools are divided into six categories based on the size of the school district. Schools are then selected from each of the six categories in a random drawing. Those selected are then invited to submit a completed grant application to the California Department of Education Technology Office. The completed grant applications are then scored and the grants awarded. It is estimated that two-thirds off all those completing a grant application will be awarded grants this year. An additional requirement is that the school must also have completed and filed a Technology Use Plan with the CDE Technology Office.

Just as Regional Coordinating Council membership varies, regional CTAP implementations vary across the state. The RCC decides on the projects to be undertaken by the region, and therefore the distribution of the funds allocated to the region. The regional operation is guided by a regional plan which is reviewed annually by the Educational Council for Technology in Learning. Of special note is the required content of each region plan. Each region plan must address five distinct components: Staff development; Technical assistance, including hardware acquisition; Information and learning resources; Telecommunications infrastructure; Coordination and funding.

Funding for central services projects is based on review and recommendations from ECTL. Projects such as the Internet Technical Academy are periodically reviewed to determine whether funding is to be continued.

So, where's the Opportunity? The funding for CTAP is currently in the $16-$18 million range, with about $7+ million earmarked for school grants, and about $9+ million for regional CTAP operation. Obviously, money is always welcome, and within the guidelines for both the regional operation and the school based grants, it is quite possible that your operation may be the recipient of funding (or partial funding) for the acquisition and/or enhancement of technology. For example, within Stanislaus County, discussions regarding the use of CTAP funds have included the possible funding of firewall and news-feed hardware and software for the Office of Education, which provides Internet access to the districts in the county. Probably a little less obvious is the opportunity to build Technology Use Plans for the schools in your district. It's difficult to sell School Boards on Technology without having a plan. It's usually easier to convince administrators to develop plans if they can see the possibility of gaining revenue as the result of those plans. CTAP also provides the opportunity for training of school and district personnel in technology. Find out about CTAP in your region by contacting your County Office of Education. Get involved in your CTAP Regional Coordinating Council. Make use of available CTAP resources, such as training and support. The Legislature is more likely to continue CTAP funding if the CTAP programs are heavily used, and you might find a new resource for the implementation of technology. CTAP is another way to obtain funding and support for the acquisition and use of technology for the students of California.

Look at the Region 6 CTAP web page at www.stan-co.k12.ca.us/scoe/iss/ctap6/ctap6.html. Once there, you can select "1997 School Based Educational Technology Grants" which has links to other pages with CTAP related information.

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