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Oklahoma Schools Receive Computers for Learning

Oklahoma Schools Receive Computers for Learning

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 their classrooms.
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 their classrooms.

Lisa Shrader is all smiles as she picks up the donated computers she requested for Mannford and Oilton public schools.
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 computer drove to USDA field offices in counties across Oklahoma to pick up the donated computers.
Representatives from the schools requesting the computers, drove to USDA field offices in counties across Oklahoma to pick up the donated computers.

Oklahoma schools are receiving over 600 “new” computer systems thanks to donations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offices in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

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,” Walker said.

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 system.

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.”

By Dee Ann Littlefield, public affairs specialist, Waurika, OK
NRCS April 2008

Last Modified: 04/23/2008

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