School computer plan gets tentative approval BALTIMORE CITY

February 11, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

The Board of Estimates gave conditional approval yesterday to a $322,000 contract to provide computer equipment for students at seven inner city schools to take home and use with their parents.

The approval is contingent on the school system establishing an arrangement whereby parents would sign forms agreeing to take responsibility for the equipment. School officials said such forms would be drawn up.

Under the contract, 43 Macintosh II computers and instructional software would be bought from an Arizona-based company for use in the seven elementary schools that receive federal Chapter 1 for disadvantaged students, according to school officials.

The contract would expand a $55,000 pilot program begun last April under which 11 computers were rotated among the city's 79 elementary schools that receive Chapter 1 money, the officials said.

The program would help meet a federal mandate that Chapter 1 funds be used in part to promote parental involvement in their children's education, said Ronald Boozer, staff specialist with the schools' Department of Compensatory and Funded Programs.

Council President Mary Pat Clarke was the sole board member to vote against the contract.

"I'm not convinced it's the best way to spend $322,000 in funds. I believe we should use Chapter 1 funds for teachers as much as possible," said Mrs. Clarke.

If additional computers are needed, she added, they should be used in the schools, where students could get necessary help, and not at home.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke also expressed some reservations about the program but noted that the idea for using the money came from the principals of the seven schools.

"I'd have many more objections if this had been imposed out of the central office," said Mr. Schmoke.

The schools involved are Cecil, Mildred Monroe, Montebello, Lakewood, Furman Templeton, George Kelson and Belmont elementaries.

City schools received $50 million this school year in federal Chapter 1 funds.

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