(a) This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Alabama Ahead Act.
(b)(1) Commencing with the 2016-2017 school year, students may be provided textbooks in electronic format . Textbooks in electronic format may be available to schools under the jurisdiction of those local boards of education which choose to participate in Alabama Ahead, to the extent practicable and funding is obtainable, to provide students with resources in the following three areas:
a. Wireless broadband access via high-quality WiFi infrastructure in schools, as a first priority pursuant to Section 16-6B-2.1.
b. Upgrades, expansions, and maintenance of existing WiFi infrastructure.
c. Devices, digital content, management systems, debt service, or support.
(2) Digital textbooks or other instructional materials provided in electronic format may also be provided to students to support the appropriate course or courses of study.
(c) Where feasible, each student and teacher may be provided in lieu of or in addition to hardbound textbooks and other instructional materials, in whole or in part, a mobile digital computing device, or other similar wireless electronic device for utilizing 21st Century technology for storing, reading, accessing, exploring, and interacting with digital textbooks and other instructional materials. Local boards of education that choose to participate in this plan shall establish practices and policies to ensure the safe-keeping and maintenance of such devices and conduct inventories to account for them annually.
(d)(1) The Department of Education shall adopt such rules as necessary to fully implement this section and Sections 16-6B-2 and 16-6B-2.1.
(2) Any system that chooses to participate in Alabama Ahead shall submit an application to the State Department of Education, a copy of which shall be provided to the Alabama Ahead Oversight Committee.
(e) There is created the Alabama Ahead Oversight Committee. The Oversight Committee shall consist of the Chair of the House Ways and Means Education Committee or designee, the Chair of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee or designee, two members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, two members appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Director of the Governor's Broadband Initiative Office, the State Superintendent of Education or designee, and an appointee of the School Superintendents of Alabama. The oversight provided by the Oversight Committee shall include, but not be limited to: (1) evaluating and confirming the appropriateness of applications submitted to the State Department of Education and (2) providing oversight and administration of implementation.
(f) Ex officio members of the Oversight Committee shall include a representative of: the Alabama Technology Network, the Alabama Virtual Library, the Alabama Supercomputer Authority, Alabama Public Television, and the Alabama Educational Technology Association (AETA) who have experience and knowledge in the administration and management of school networks.
(g) With the exception of those members serving on the committee by virtue of their respective offices, each member must have proven experience in the areas of instructional technology, network design, public school business practices, public school administration, or other similar experience commensurate with the duties and responsibilities of the proper knowledge of the implementation of this project.
(h) Appointed members shall not be entitled to receive any direct or indirect personal gain from this assignment. The members shall serve without compensation for their services.
(i) The membership of the Committee shall be inclusive and reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state.
Last modified: May 3, 2021