Commissioner: Use hospital cash for computers

2012-12-24T00:00:00Z 2012-12-24T09:15:04Z Commissioner: Use hospital cash for computersJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Porter County Commissioner Nancy Adams thinks the potential for the county's high school students is endless, especially if she can help get the right tools in their hands.

Adams has met with county school district superintendents in recent months to talk about using some of the interest money from the Porter hospital sale to purchase laptop computers for county high school students.

"The (Porter County) Council had town hall meetings last year to discuss the hospital interest money," she said. Most attending and providing ideas were nonprofits looking for help funding their cause.

"We need to do something to benefit the whole county. I thought, 'Why not education, and why not computers?'" Adams said.

"This is also an economic development issue. People would want to move to Porter County because they'd see how we treat our kids," Adams said. "This is also about the future of our kids."

Adams said they've also been in discussions with Frontier to offer low-cost Internet access for students.

The computers could be used by families, but would have content management software installed.

Adams estimated there are 10,000 high school-aged students in the county and the cost of the project could be $5 million.

Adams said she has talked to local educators, Indiana School Superintendent Tony Bennett and representative of local colleges and universities about the idea.

Just about a week ago, a group of local educators, representing each school district, met at Portage High School to discuss the proposal.

"We need to have a development plan," Adams said, adding she hopes to take the plan to the Porter County Council in February.

The plan would look at what could be purchased; what would happen if the laptops were broken, stolen or lost; and how school districts would fund the project once the initial purchase was made by the county.

Portage Township Schools Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia said they heard presentations from three school district who already adopted the initiative. Their advice was not to rush, but to study the issue for a year.

"I think it would be a wonderful thing if the county could come up with a computer for every high school student in the county," Frataccia said.

"In concept it is an excellent idea," Duneland Community Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer said. "I support it, but there are a lot of logistical issues," he said.

"We educators in Valparaiso see that as a wonderful opportunity to finance advancement in education," Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Michael Berta said.

To him, the "deep problem" would be coordinating curriculum and having that software in place.

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