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Massena Central receives $103,564 for hardware, software purchases

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MASSENA - The Massena Central School District will receive an unexpected gift from the state - vouchers to purchase computers and software stemming from a 2006 settlement agreement between New York state consumers and Microsoft Corporation.

Massena Central will receive $103,564 that will divided between three schools - $31,650 for J. William Leary Junior High, $34,388 for Jefferson Elementary and $37,526 for Madison Elementary.

The aid is based on the number of students receiving free and reduced lunches at those schools. Funding is available to eligible public and charter schools in which at least 50 percent of the attending students receive free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program.

“Our poverty rate has increased tremendously the last five years,” Massena Central School Superintendent Roger B. Clough II.

The aid will be in the form of vouchers, half to purchase hardware and half to purchase specific category software. The voucher amounts assigned to eligible schools are based on the total funding available and the number of applications from eligible schools.

The vouchers, which can be redeemed for eligible products from any technology company, can be used to purchase computer hardware, software and equipment needed for computer networks and technology infrastructure.

Fifty percent of the value of a voucher will be eligible to purchase hardware; the other 50 percent can be used to purchase specific category software.

Mr. Clough said the funding came as a surprise to the district. It was announced on Thursday by the state Education Department.

“I had no idea until we got (the notification) from state ed,” he said. “It’s a nice surprise. When you see something like that, this is great news.”

The funding will be used to provide more technology, such as Smart Boards, software and hardware in those schools and keep them updated, Mr. Clough said.

“The technology upgrades will help our students tremendously and provide additional technology to our teachers,” Director of Curriculum Sarah Boyce said.

“Giving students the tools they need to be ready for a technology-driven world is difficult in this era of budget cutting. These funds will make a big difference for these schools,” Mr. Clough noted.

He said Massena has been fortunate to have support for their technology efforts thanks to Alcoa grants and initiatives from parent groups and the community.

“We’re rich in technology and we’re updated, and the community and industries have supported it,” the superintendent said.

All together, more than $87 million was made available for New York schools serving low-income students, to purchase new technology and software.

“Far too often, students in low income school districts miss out on the use of the latest technology in the classroom,” State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said in a release.

“Our goal is to graduate every student with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college and careers. Technology is an important tool to help students reach that goal. These funds will help level the playing field for thousands of students,” he said.

The program is designed to facilitate the transition to computer-based testing and the overall integration of technology in the classroom.

Mr. Clough said the technology upgrades will help meet Dr. King’s goal by better preparing students for the latest in online assessments These assessments will help track a student’s progress in math and English language arts, ensuring he or she will graduate with needed skills.

Other local schools that received funding include St. Lawrence Central Elementary School, which will receive $26,175; Norwood-Norfolk Central School, $37,126; and Salmon River Central School, $104,032 including $26,776 allocated for the St. Regis Mohawk School.

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