COLUMBIA — Smithton Middle School in Columbia has been awarded $199,989 in stimulus money through a competitive grant administered by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The money was among the $4 million in grant funding announced by Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday. The money will help 14 Missouri school districts fund technology in the classroom and expand technology-based teaching methods.
In Columbia, the money will be used to purchase about 260 netbook computers, said Kerry Townsend, a library media specialist at Smithton Middle School.
The budget per computer is $500, which would include the hardware, a warranty and software. The netbooks would fill 10 classrooms and turn them into computer labs. Townsend said the price of the computers will determine how many they buy. They hope to have them by September.
Money will also go toward buying laptops for teachers and toward stipends for teachers who are training outside of contract hours. The training program is designed to help teachers in the schools learn how to teach using new technology.
Columbia Public Schools Board President Jan Mees said the district was proactive when seeking the grant this spring.
"It's always wonderful to have extra resources available to help our students and teachers advance in their curricular and learning objectives," she said.
Mees said the grant's main authors were Townsend and Julie Nichols, Manager of Instructional Technology for Columbia schools. Mees said the application had to contain information about student needs and whether the grant could be properly implemented.
"Technology is simply a tool to help teachers implement curriculum," Townsend said. "Our hope is that it will help students learn more efficiently and implement our curriculum."
In a news release, Nixon said the education technology grants allow Missouri to invest "even more greatly" in schools and allow more children "to make use of 21st century technology in the classroom."