Net Weekend for schools lacks volunteers, $1 million State project to connect classrooms to computers

September 13, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

With just two weeks to go, Maryland still needs several thousand volunteers and $1 million to put more than 600 public schools on the Internet in a single weekend later this month.

The state-sponsored project, known as Net Weekend, is a 43-hour attempt from Sept. 27 to Sept. 29 to wire five classrooms and the media center in each school in the state not already connected to the Internet.

The schools will receive two computers, two monitors, two modems and free initial access to the Internet.

The project, which runs from 2 p.m. that Friday to 9 a.m. that Sunday, is part of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's statewide technology initiative, which combines state funds and private contributions. The volunteer labor will save the state about $5 million, said Major F. Riddick Jr., Glendening's chief of staff.

More than 40 corporations and institutions have pledged $500,000 of the $1.7 million needed for hardware, software and equipment fees. And more than 2,000 people have volunteered to work, said Dave Humphrey, public relations director for the Maryland Department of General Services. Officials hope to get 4,000 to 6,000 more volunteers.

Volunteers do not have to be computer experts. In fact, anyone who can hold a ladder or hammer a nail is invited to participate; a technician will oversee the work at each school, he said.

The state is still identifying the schools -- about half of them are in Baltimore City and Prince George's County -- and will match volunteers to nearby schools.

"What we're trying to do is make this a grass-roots effort, involving communities, churches, synagogues, PTAs," said Humphrey.

Glendening has been stirring up support for the project at all of his recent stops and will be on wiring teams in several counties that weekend.

Business sponsors also are needed to purchase equipment and to sponsor specific schools by paying telephone and Internet fees once the equipment is installed.

Individual and corporate volunteers can register in three ways: by phone at (888) 828-2468 (toll free); online at http: //www.mec .state.md.us/mec/mdconnect or by e-mail at mdconnecov .state.md.us.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can mail it to: Maryland Information Technology Center, Suite 200, 2092 Gaither Road, Rockville, Md. 20850.

Pub Date: 9/13/96

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