$500,000 Donation Buys Digital Boards and Books in Missouri

A district in Missouri that received an anonymous $500,000 donation in May specifically for instructional technology will be spending $75,000 of that to add digital books to its school libraries. Wentzville School District, which has about 12,500 students in 15 K-12 schools, will also be deploying about two dozen tablets at each school. The money for those devices will come out of district technology funding. That funding had originally included an allocation for the purchase of additional interactive whiteboards, which will now be covered by the donation.

According to Director of Technology Richard Wilson, the district will be using a new digital "bookshelf" feature in its current online library system, Follett Destiny Library Manager to track acquisition and checkout of e-books. "The plan is to purchase [e-books] through Follett and then [have them] housed and distributed via the Destiny library system," he said.

Wilson added that students and staff will be able to access the new materials from any computer, whether at school or home.

The district will to go out to bid in the next month for the tablets. That bid "will be non-brand and non-model specific, so we will see what models come in," Wilson said. "It should be interesting!" Among the units already tested are models from Coby (the Kyros) and Archos (the Internet Tablet). Both companies sell Google Android-powered devices in the $200 to $300 range.

Once they've been acquired, the tablets will be available for students to check out for reading e-books or accessing other online resources. "With this gift, we have the opportunity to provide more technical resources for our students," said Wilson. "In addition, it will allow us to allocate our existing funds into other innovative and creative technologies throughout the district."

The donation has also enabled the district to re-allocate funds to a 1:1 initiative that will put netbooks into the hands of freshman English students. That project is scheduled to begin this fall with teacher training; the students will receive their devices in January at the start of the second semester.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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