Guam Schools To See $3 Million In New Computer Equipment

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Compact impact funds to be used to buy about 3,000 new units

By Jerick Sablan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 11, 2013) – Guam public school students will soon see thousands of new computer laptops and tablets.

Gov. Eddie Calvo yesterday announced $3 million in federal compact-impact money will be used to buy the technology for the island's schools.

The island each year receives $16 million from the federal government to help offset the costs of providing government services to regional migrants who come here under compacts of free association with the United States.

Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez said the agency plans to buy 100 mobile laptop and tablet carts, each with about 30 computers, or about 3,000 new computers for students.

Calvo said his administration is making good on its promise to provide students with access to technology. "We want our students to be prepared for the 21st century," Calvo said.

Fernandez said the school system is excited about the investment and expressed the importance of students learning how to use technology.

He said a parent told him that her son, a recent graduate, applied for a job and was told the special computer skills he listed on his application are now considered standard knowledge.

"That's the expectation for our graduates. We want our students to exit high school ready to compete, and technology use be second nature to them," Fernandez said.

Fernandez said there isn't enough money to buy computers for all students, so the department is focusing on certain "gateway" grade levels. Fifth-, sixth-, ninth- and eleventh-graders will be the targeted population for the laptops and tablets, he said.

About $150,000 will be set aside to provide training for teachers to integrate the laptops and tablets into the curriculum. "We want to make sure our students are engaged and become proficient," Fernandez said.

The agency is working to procure security systems to ensure the laptops and tablets are protected, he said.

Meanwhile Vince Leon Guerrero, the governor's education liaison, said some money will be used to expand wireless Internet service at the island's schools.

Leon Guerrero said some students have smart phones or other personal electronic devices that they can use with a wireless connection.

Jose Cruz, Guam Education Board chairman, said he encourages students to teach their parents about the use of technology, also.

Fernandez encouraged parents to use Parent Portal for information on daily attendance, assignments, tests, quizzes and any other issues that could affect a student's grades.

Parent Portal, which can be found at powerschool.gdoe.net is available at Department of Education schools.

Students at the press conference said they are excited to use the new laptops and tablets.

Southern High School Senior Genavie Palmares, said she feels blessed this school year since the school has a new gym and auditorium and will soon get new laptops. "It gives us more resources and I think school morale will go up," she said.

Southern Senior Rainier Porras said the laptops will give students needed skills for a better future. "This give us an opportunity to learn skills important to succeed in the future," he said.

Porras said it will especially benefit students who don't have access to technology at home.

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