Lou Ann Walker (left), USDA’s Oklahoma Group Mgr, OCIO, presents Lisa
Shrader, director of alternative education for Mannford and Oilton
public schools, with 16 laptops and two high-end computers to use in
Lisa Shrader is all smiles as she picks up the donated computers she
requested for Mannford and Oilton public schools.
Representatives from the schools requesting the computers, drove to USDA
field offices in counties across Oklahoma to pick up the donated
Oklahoma schools are receiving over 600 “new” computer systems thanks
to donations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offices in Oklahoma
USDA offices recently received new equipment to update their computer
systems. This replacement process made 603 older computer systems
available for donation to educational institutions in Oklahoma, through
Executive Order 1299.
Under the Executive Order, a school or educational nonprofit
organization is eligible to receive a donation if they meet the
following criteria: 1) They must be set up solely for educational
purposes, 2) they must be non-profit tax exempt under section 501(c) of
the U. S. Tax Code and 3) they must serve pre-kindergarten through grade
12 students or be a 2-year or a 4-year institution.
In the past, USDA field offices in each county would contact schools in
their area when computers were replaced and they had equipment available
for donation. This year, the field offices sent out e-mails to their
local school districts letting them know they could log on to the
website www.computersforlearning.gov to see what type of equipment was
available that would help meet their needs. From there, the schools
could either register on the website or contact Lou Ann Walker, USDA’s
Oklahoma Group Mgr, OCIO, about the type and amount of computers they
need. Walker then made the necessary arrangements to get the paperwork
completed and arranged for schools to pick up the equipment from the
USDA field offices.
“This new process gives us an opportunity to reach more schools and
gives the schools an opportunity to receive equipment that they need and
want,” says Walker, based in Stillwater.
According to Walker, schools responded immediately to the information
sent out by field office staff and she received more requests than she
had equipment to fill.
“Most of the requests were from small schools that have little or no
computer equipment and are very desperate,” Walker said. “They are very
thrilled to have the opportunity to get the computers.”
Walker said several of the schools told her that they are under a
mandate to go to online testing for their "End of Instruction" (EOI)
tests in the next year. Many of the small schools that have little or no
computer equipment available, and no budget to purchase new equipment,
didn't know how they would be able to comply.
“For those schools, this equipment comes just when they need it most,”
To prepare the computers for donation, the government’s operating
systems are removed from each computer. Microsoft has a Fresh Start
program for schools who receive donated equipment. If the equipment has
a Pentium III or older processor, Microsoft will send the school a CD
with the Windows operating system. However, with the newer equipment
like USDA is donating, the systems have a Windows Certificate of
Authenticity sticker on them, which is a valid Windows operating system
license. The school can use any existing media that they have, including
Microsoft volume licensing agreements, to reinstall the operating
Lisa Shrader, director of alternative education for Mannford and Oilton
public schools, found out about the program from an e-mail forwarded
from another teacher. She registered on the Computers for Learning
website, and then recently came to the USDA State Office in Stillwater
to pick up 16 laptops and two high end computers.
“This is so cool!” Shrader said. “I feel like this is Christmas. There
is no way our school could have afforded to purchase this equipment.”
Shrader also remarked that the computer donation program was a win-win
because “it fills our schools, not our landfills.”
Walker said that because Oklahoma has had such an overwhelming number of
requests for the 509 systems they had available, Arkansas USDA offices
offered an additional 94 systems to help fill the orders, bringing the
total donated to Oklahoma schools to 603 computers. Nationwide, from
October 1, 2007 through January 31, 2008, the USDA’s Information
Technology Services (ITS) donated 5,725 systems with an original
acquisition cost of over $3.5 million.
The demand for the computers is greater than the supply, so Walker tries
to distribute the computers as equitably as possible.
“One school wanted 120 laptops, but we only have 97 available in the
entire state, so they won’t be able to get more than 10 or 20, but at
least that will help them,” Walker says.
“We have had such a great response to this program,” she continues. “If
we’d had 1,000 systems available, they would have all been donated.”