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Greencastle-Antrim still in running for grant

December 14, 2000

Greencastle-Antrim still in running for grant



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


GREENCASTLE, Pa. - If Lady Luck were to smile on the Greencastle-Antrim School District, it would become one of two districts in the state to get a $4 million grant for an ultra-modern, digital computer system.

The Pennsylvania Legislature set aside $8 million to upgrade systems in two of the state's 501 school districts. Greencastle-Antrim is the only district in Franklin County that submitted the complex 50-page application.

This week, the district learned it was among 30 districts still in the running. That number will be cut to six finalists, all of which will make oral presentations before the state department of education.

P. Duff Rearick, district superintendent, said Thursday there's been no word on when the six finalists will be announced.

Rearick wrote the application for the 2,650-student school district.

The $4 million grant would, among other things, pay to convert the district's computers to a wireless, digital system that could be accessed "anywhere, anytime" by students, teachers, parents and eventually anyone in the community via cable.

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All students in grades 11 and 12 would get free wireless laptops to use in school and home. Those who qualified, either through low-income status or high academic standing, could keep their computers upon graduation. Others could buy them at half price.

A digital system would let students access courses from home and their parents could see their children's records and hold conferences with teachers at will, Rearick said.

Students would become experts at the technology and could teach their parents, he predicted.

Each student would have a personal file. Individualized instruction would replace classroom teaching in many instances.

"Based upon our research findings," Rearick wrote in the application, "we are convinced that one of the primary advantages to technology is the availability of a wealth of instantaneous information that a teacher can access on each child ... to create an individualized educational program."

The technology would also eliminate the need for expensive school building expansion, he said.

It would be introduced in the lowest grades and, like a funnel, would broaden out to the higher grades until it reached grades 11 and 12, where all students would be given wireless laptop computers.

"Beginning with grade 11 and continuing into adulthood, anytime-anywhere education becomes a reality," he said.

The bottom line, Rearick said, is to prepare students for high-tech jobs.

School officials sought the support of the Greencastle Borough Council and Antrim Township Supervisors in their quest by saying high-tech companies would be attracted to the area by a trained force of young workers.

"We have 1,000 computers in the schools now," Rearick said. "Our goal is to have 2,600."

He said if the district loses the grant, it will begin to phase in some of the programs in the application "in some fashion, even if it's in concept."

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