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Valleywide Focus

Computer Donation Program Extended

November 05, 1994|ED BOND

Schools that had been racing to garner donations of computers in hopes of doubling their gain through a private foundation's gift-matching program have been given another four months to seek equipment.

In April, the La Jolla-based Detwiler foundation created a Computers for Schools Matching Challenge for California schools. It pledged that for every computer a business donated to a school, the foundation would donate another. The foundation receives computers from major corporations.

The foundation had set a Thanksgiving deadline for schools to gather donations, but extended the date to March 31 because the foundation has been given more than 6,000 computers and related equipment to distribute--much more than had been anticipated, said spokeswoman Lisa Cohn.

At least 24 public and private schools across the San Fernando Valley had been racing to meet the deadline.

"We wanted to get on this as soon as we could," said Janice Walsh, principal of Gledhill Elementary School in North Hills. "Our hope is we will be able to establish an ESL lab."

Teaching students English and helping them overcome disabilities or get excited about learning are among the reasons educators gave for wanting new computers. Some officials said their computers are old, broken or outdated.

"Parents are concerned with getting kids technology-ready for the future," said Joel Robbins, a teacher at Chandler Elementary School in Sherman Oaks.

Robbins said Chandler is trying to get enough computers to set up a lab for the school of 650 students and to place computers in every classroom.

California schools have an average of one computer for every 20 students--the third-worst ratio in the country, according to the foundation.

Jim Robertson, principal of Lupin Hill Elementary School in Calabasas, hopes to upgrade the campus's existing lab of 17 computers.

"There's no limit to what creative children can do," Robertson said.

Nancy Knox, a special education teacher at Dearborn Elementary School in Northridge, hopes to use computers to help language-impaired students.

"We're a very small school and we don't have some of the programs that other schools have," Knox said.

"We're hoping to upgrade our technology without having to spend any more money."

Businesses that want to donate their old computers can call their local school or the Detwiler Foundation at (800) 939-6000.

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