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Greencastle-Antrim schools won't get technology grant

January 04, 2001

Greencastle-Antrim schools won't get technology grant



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Greencastle-Antrim School District learned Wednesday that it is out of the running for a $4 million grant that would have paid for an ultra-modern wireless computer system.

The state has set aside $8 million to be shared equally by two of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts for the interactive digital systems that can be accessed anytime and anywhere by students, parents and anyone in the community.

Greencastle-Antrim was one of 77 school districts in the state and the only one in Franklin County to apply for the grant program.

The district made the first cut to 30 districts but lost out Wednesday when the state Department of Education announced the six finalists.

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Schools Superintendent P. Duff Rearick said the upbeat side of the disappointing news is that in preparing the nearly 50-page application, the Greencastle-Antrim School District came up with "a heck of a technology plan," which will be implemented to a large extent even without the state's money.

"We don't know to what extent, but we'll find the funds to put it in place even if it will be at a slower pace than if we got the $4 million," Rearick said. "We have no idea where we will get the money. We'll seek grants and local corporate support."

The school board is committed to the idea, Rearick said.

The application drafted by Rearick called for all students in grades 11 and 12 to have free wireless laptops for use in school and at home. Low-income students would keep their computers upon graduation. Others would buy them at half price.

The digital system would have let students access courses from home and their parents could see their children's records and hold conferences with teachers at will, according to the application. It would also have helped homeschoolers.

Each student would have had a personal file and individualized instruction would have replaced classroom teaching in many instances.

The project would have come on line in phases with banks of computers for each classroom as the first phase followed by laptops for upperclass members. Outreach into the community would have been the final phase.

According to a State Department of Education release Wednesday, the six finalists were: Carlisle School District in Cumberland County; Franklin Regional School District in Westmoreland County; Hatboro-Horsham School District in Montgomery County; Owen J. Roberts School District in Chester County; Quaker Valley School District in Allegheny County and Spring Cove School District in Blair County.

A panel of technology and education experts will evaluate the six finalists and select the two winners.

"The hard work of all of our applicants will benefit their students for years to come," Pennsylvania Education Secretary Eugene Hickok said in the release. "I encourage all those who have worked tirelessly on their proposals to continue on their path toward making their innovative ideas a reality."

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