Grants help District 4 buy computers, upgrade wireless system
Dec 19, 2012 (The Western News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Melody Rohrer, the Libby School District technical coordinator, knows a good thing when she sees it, and that was the first step in students at Libby Elementary School receiving 80 new Samsung Chromebooks.
In addition to the solid-state, handy laptops, the district also is upgrading its wireless system at Libby Elementary School to accommodate the new computers.
The cost of the laptops, which Rohrer expects to arrive after the first of the year, is $39,000, all of which will be paid by grants obtained by the district.
"What's really nice is we got these with zero General Fund money," Rohrer said.
The grants, which total three, include funds from the Gear-Up, Striving Readers and the Microsoft allocations. In fact, the Striving Readers Grant required a plan to upgrade school computers. Each laptop costs $279, and the wireless upgrade cost another $6,000.
The plan is to put about five computers in each classroom, spread among 400-plus students in grades third through sixth.
For Rohrer, the choice of the Chromebooks was an easy one as soon as she turned one on.
"They're solid state and when you turn them on they're on. There's no start-up time, which is very important in the classroom when we want to maximize every minute," Rohrer said.
Another plus, Rohrer said, is the full-size keyboard.
"I really think that's a plus for the students and for teachers," Rohrer said.
As eager as Rohrer is in anticipation for students, her elation pales in comparison to LES Principal Ron Goodman.
"I can't begin to tell you how this will help our curriculum ... (to) use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently."
Also, as the district looks toward the future, in 2015 the state will begin testing all students' aptitude via the Internet.
Rohrer said having a couple years familiarity with the Chromebooks will only help students when it comes to the eventual testing.
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