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For Immediate Release: May 15, 2008
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Scaled-back version of laptop initiative to move forward

Fifteen schools have been selected to participate in South Dakota’s Classroom Connections for 2008-09, under a scaled-back version of the one-to-one laptop initiative. (See list below.) That means about 1,500 high school students will receive laptops to enhance their learning during the upcoming school year.

“Our goal was to reach 5,000 students in the 2008-09 school year, but instead we’ll be reaching only about a third of those students,” said Education Secretary Rick Melmer. “We are disappointed that we can’t do more, but we are committed to keeping the initiative moving ahead.”

Classroom Connections provides incentive money to districts to purchase laptops for their high school students. The state provides matching funds – $1 for every $2 invested by the local school district – to purchase laptops for every student in grades 9-12. Districts pay $1,250 per computer. That cost not only covers the initial investment of hardware, software and warranties, it also covers the training of teachers and technology coordinators in the schools.

“On the national front, the question surrounding learning with laptops is not if it will happen, it’s when it will happen,” said Gov. Mike Rounds. “Here in South Dakota, the K-12 laptop initiative will help to prepare students for a world in which access to information and technology is absolutely critical to economic health.”

The scaled-back program for 2008-09 is expected to cost the state $770,000. Funding for the full program, estimated at $2.9 million, was cut during the 2008 legislative session. Expenses for adding the 15 new schools will be paid using Citibank funds.

South Dakota’s Classroom Connections Pilot Schools

3rd Year: 2008-09

Andes Central (96 students)

Armour (61 students)

Baltic (135 students)

Bridgewater/Emery (109 students)

Britton/Hecla (185 students)

Canistota (84 students)

Custer (290 students)

Deubrook (78 students)

Faulkton (90 students)

Hoven (49 students)

Lake Preston (67 students)

Langford (65 students)

Waubay (50 students)

White Lake (54 students)

Wilmot (83 students)

South Dakota’s Classroom Connections is part of the governor’s 2010 Education Initiative, which calls for South Dakota becoming first in the nation for the percent of students going on to college or technical school.