Six N.H. schools to get laptops in computer program

The six schools that will get about 700 new laptop computers for 7th-grade classes and teachers early next year were announced earlier this moth by Gov. Craig Benson.

The leased computers, wireless networks and technical support will be going to the Armand R. Dupont School in Allenstown, Indian River Middle School in Canaan, Haverhill Cooperative Middle School, the Paul School in Wakefield, Thornton Central School and Winnisquam Regional Middle School in Tilton.

The program is being paid for by $1.3 million in donations from 24 New Hampshire businesses.

Fifteen schools submitted proposals. The winners were chosen by a panel that included educators, representatives from donating businesses and Benson.

“The proposals were all extremely comprehensive and detailed,” Benson said. He said the panel considered the schools’ plans to use the computers, their commitment to the program and their plan to measure its success, among other factors.

Originally the program was going to award computers to five schools. It was expanded because more money was raised than expected and the winning 7th-grade classes were smaller than expected.

“The free laptops will go a long way to improve the students’ education, enhance their computer skills and stimulate the learning process. I’d like to commend every school who submitted a proposal,” Benson said. “The selection board found their task of reducing the number to six difficult because they were all worthy candidates.”

The teachers and 7th-grade students will use the computers for four years, then organizers will consider if the program should continue.

The 7th-graders will turn in their computers at the end of the school year for the next class to use.

The initiative was inspired by a state-funded program in Maine, where 34,000 7th- and 8th-graders and 3,000 teachers have been outfitted with laptops. Maine officials report absenteeism has dropped, and students have shown some significant improvement in paying attention to their schoolwork.

Maine entered into a four-year, $37 million contract with Apple Computers to furnish the laptops.

Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have bid to supply the computers in New Hampshire. Benson said he, with help from technical advisers, will choose the winning bid.

The 24 businesses and organizations that have contributed to the initiative are:

• Lead sponsors — BAE Systems, Anthem, Banknorth, EDS, Citizens Bank, Fidelity Investments, Comcast, Fisher Scientific, Keyspan, Fleet Bank, Liberty Mutual, FPL Group, Verizon and Waste Management.

• Associate sponsors: Cigna, CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Company, Northeast Delta Dental, C&J Trailways, Holloway Charitable Trust, Frisbie Memorial Hospital, New Hampshire International Speedway, Pixel Media, Ocean Properties and Osram Sylvania.

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