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Grant to help schools with Internet access

November 07, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Volunteers will improve Internet access at six Washington County elementary schools next weekend with the help of a $30,000 state grant.

During Net Weekend '99 on Nov. 12 and 13, schools throughout Maryland will use grants to wire classrooms, buy new hardware or software and train teachers.

Locally, the money will be used mostly for equipment, according to Betsy Klein, technology director for the Washington County Board of Education. Fifteen schools applied for grants and each will get either wiring or computer hardware, she said.

Wiring projects at Fountaindale, Hancock, Hickory, Old Forge, Pleasant Valley and Conococheague elementary schools will add computer access points, or "drops" at each school.

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All schools have some Internet access, but it is limited in some buildings to administrative rooms or libraries. Others have some classrooms with drops and some without. Klein wants eventually to give each school complete Internet access.

The grant also will pay for a contract to add computer wiring at Williamsport Elementary School, Klein said. She said the school was not readily accessible for nonprofessional volunteers to install wiring.

Schools that did not need wiring will get equipment. Potomac Heights will get a "Smart Board," a device that projects a computer screen onto a board, allowing the teacher to interact with the computer for all to see.

Fountain Rock, Boonsboro, Greenbrier, Salem Avenue, Funkstown, Pangborn and Eastern elementary schools will receive hardware such as Gateway computers.

All 15 schools receiving funds sent applications to the Central Office describing ways they would use technology in their classrooms, Klein said.

The School Board will provide network technicians to work with parent volunteers at each school adding wiring. Principals are also lending a hand, according to Klein.

The Net Weekend program is paid for by the State Information Technology Fund created by the General Assembly and the governor. Since 1996, the state has given $4.5 million in aid to schools as part of the annual event, according to the governor's office.

This year, Washington County received $5,000 less than Frederick County but more than others in Western Maryland.

Allegheny County got $20,000 and Garrett County got $10,000.

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