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$2.1 million sought for technology needs

March 25, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Washington County high school students are getting short-changed by having to use outdated computers and software, said school officials who hope to rectify that with just over $2.1 million in 1997-98.

"Our students are losing a competitive edge, not only in the work force, but in higher education," said John Davidson, supervisor of computer-related instruction.

Of the 738 computers to be purchased under the proposed plan, 430 would go into county high schools, Davidson said.

The plan includes updating each of the seven high school business labs with 25 multimedia-equipped computers that run the same software used by businesses, he said.

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The plan also includes updating each of the high schools' labs with 30 multimedia-equipped computers capable of accessing the Internet, he said.

North Hagerstown High School would get about 45 additional computers - with the goal of one per classroom, he said.

Two years ago, Smithsburg High School was the first high school to get a computer in each classroom as part of the school's renovation project, Davidson said.

The school also was wired with a local area network that gives each classroom Internet access, internal and external e-mail capability and the ability to run administrative software, he said.

Hancock, Clear Spring, Williamsport and Boonsboro high schools received classroom computers and LAN wiring last year through a state technology grant and local funding, Davidson said.

Those four schools are slated for library automation and administrative software, he said.

The plan includes wiring South Hagerstown High School for Internet access, Davidson said.

Three middle schools that have been promised state technology funding and two elementary schools undergoing major renovation also would receive new computers, software and wiring, he said.

The $2.1 million would complete the first year of purchases requested in a three-year plan submitted by the Washington County Board of Education's Instructional Technology Advisory Committee in 1995, Davidson said.

Last year, $550,000 of the requested $7.3 million was funded, he said. The plan now has a five-year time line, beginning next year.

The school board is asking the Washington County Commissioners for the $2.1 million outside of its proposed $104 million operating budget, said Board President B. Marie Byers.

The school board presents its budget to the County Commissioners at 7 p.m. today in Kepler Auditorium at Hagerstown Junior College.

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