KCSD donates old iMacs to Study Buddies program

Staff photo by Wm. Shawn Weigel: Latecia Meyers and Katie Perigo of the Historic East Linden Study Buddies program. The Kennett district may donate up to 25 old iMac computers to the program.

The Study Buddies program may soon have a batch of new computers courtesy of the Kennett school district.

On Monday night, the board of school directors voted unanimously to donate up to 25 used iMacs from the high school technology department to the non-profit organization that works with underprivileged Kennett kids grades K through five.

LaToya Myers, executive director of the Historic East Linden Project, which sponsors the Study Buddies program, said that even though the computers are older, they are new to them and are a valuable resource.

The computers will be used to give kids a chance to access online instructional programs used by the district, like Study Island and First in Math.

Myers said they also are a tool used by program instructors to calm rambunctious kids down when they first arrive.

'Most of the kids in our program actually don't have computers at home; if they do have computers at home, they don't have internet access,' Myers said. 'So the only time that they actually get to use the computers is at this program.'

In those cases, the kids are also hampered by the fact that their parents are usually not computer literate and cannot provide them with additional support.

District technology director Dan Maguire said that the computers have little resale value and that it would be too costly to otherwise upgrade the laptops.

'It's about $100 per device,' Maguire said of the resale value. 'So the return on investment for us to donate (the laptops) to Study Buddies, because they'll be using the online programs that the students access in school, is far more valuable.'

The original motion called for up to five computers to be donated; after a discussion between board members, however, it was raised to 'no more than 25.'

Maguire said that the district has roughly 150 computers at that price point, and that the original five were suggested as a starting point for the donation.

'They are older machines, so there are limitations,' he said. 'You want to be as consistent as possible, just like in a regular classroom environment, because the (tech) support isn't going to be there.'

Study Buddies instructor Katie Perigo said that of the seven computers they have, only four actually work, and at least one dates back to 1990.

The group ranges between 20 and 30 students, Perigo said, depending on a variety of factors.

The students in the group are comprised mostly of kids from Greenwood, Perigo said, with a few from the Mary D. Lang kindergarten center and one family from Bancroft Elementary.

Perigo explained that the first part of the sessions is generally dedicated to instructional time, with Kennett High School volunteers providing some guidance. The second half is dedicated to building communication skills and some downtime. The kids are rotated through the few existing computers, she said.

Myers said the organization works with a lot of children with personal challenges, from behavioral issues to borderline poverty.

'The computers are the thing that actually settles them down,' she said. 'So if we could have one for each child that would be the ideal situation. But we make it work with whatever we have.'

The organization currently operates out of the basement Bethany UAME Church on E. Linden Street, Myers said. The kids walk to and from to the program, since most live on E. Linden.

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