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Digital High plan approved

California includes $100 million over the next four years in a new state budget for technology improvements.

California Gov. Pete Wilson signed the long-overdue state budget yesterday, approving $100 million for the Digital High School initiative, aimed at grooming graduating seniors for high-tech jobs.

Wilson announced the legislative plan during his State of the State address on January 7, but since then the funds have been trimmed back. Digital High calls for $500 million from the state over the next four years, as well as a local match requirement, to raise $1 billion to get new computers and Net connections for schools, distribute technology grants, and provide faculty training.

The revised legislation allocates $100 million for the next year.

The governor is already on track to put his plan into action. He is meeting with Oracle executives today to see a demonstration of how the company's network computer can be used to implement Digital High. Wilson will also discuss more details about the initiative when he's at Oracle's headquarters in Redwood City, California.

Although California's Silicon Valley is on the forefront of developing and manufacturing computer and Net technology, student access to computer technology ranks a low 45 out of the 50 states, Wilson said when introducing the bills.

As proposed, the plan would distribute funding to a school based on its average daily attendance basis; require local matching of at least $1 million for an average-sized school, which could be obtained through private industry; and dedicates money to train teachers to use computers and incorporate technology into their curriculum.