VALPARAISO | The laptop computer stocks must be about to soar thanks to funds provided to the Valparaiso and East Porter County Schools by the city's Redevelopment Commission.
For the third year in a row, the commission provided each school system with funds through an education challenge grant meant to help the schools provide instruction for 21st century jobs. A total of $365,000 was available with Valparaiso eligible to receive $265,720 and East Porter County $99,280.
Both school systems had their applications approved at the commission's Wednesday meeting. Valparaiso plans to buy 90 laptops, three charging carts, 126 Chromebooks, 210 iPads, 53 Apple TVs, three MacBook Pros, seven iPad charging carts and 117 graphing calculators.
Valparaiso Superintendent Michael Berta said the proposal was drafted by a districtwide team to "address 21st century learning and advance what we can do in the schools to facilitate that."
Valparaiso School Board Member Jim Jorgensen said the grant "will take technology farther down into the system" with the goal of helping students prepare for the jobs in the next 15 to 20 years and beyond.
East Porter County Superintendent Rod Gardin said the district will use the funding to update the business labs at Kouts and Washington Township High Schools with new computers and software, something that has not been done since 2006. Laptops and laptop carts also will be provided to the English classrooms at Kouts High School.
"Our most successful initiative has been the introduction of laptops into some of our high school English classrooms," Gardin said in his application to the commission. "Having the laptops in the classroom has allowed our English teachers to spend more time with their students on improving their writing and visual skills. The ability to communicate clearly in the workplace is a vital skill."
At the meeting, Gardin said, "Since we know high school students are exiting most quickly to the work force, we are concentrating on them. The teachers love having these laptops in the class. We have them at Washington and Morgan, and now we are extending it to Kouts."
Councilman John Bowker, a member of the commission, said, "This is exactly what we're supposed to be doing."