Bell plan draws mixed reaction

Tuesday, November 30th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Southwestern Bell is being stingy by offering, as part of a deregulation plan, to give public schools $30 million for technology, a state Senate budget leader says. Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, said Oklahoma schools rank 50th in the nation in computer availability and he believes Bell should "step up and help us fill that need."

Hobson, chairman of the appropriations budget committee that handles education funding, testified Monday before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The commission is considering a Bell transition plan as part of deregulation of the telecommunications industry. The plan includes Bell's offer of $30 million for school technology.

Sen. Glen Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, testified it would set a dangerous precedent for the state to pressure an industry into paying for deregulation. Carolyn Crowder, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told the commission a coalition of education groups had agreed with a proposal to set up an education technology fund.