Outmoded computers to get new life at nonprofit

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School district will donate up to 25 to Historic East Linden Project 

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

LaToya M. Myers (left) and Katie Perigo from the Historic East Linden Project hoped to get five computer discards from the school district for their "Study Buddies" program, but might get up to five times more.

LaToya M. Myers (left) and Katie Perigo from the Historic East Linden Project hoped to get five computer discards from the school district for their “Study Buddies” program, but might get up to five times more.

Two representatives of the Historic East Linden Project attended Monday night’s Kennett Consolidated School District board meeting in hopes of getting five of the district’s computer discards; they left with the possibility of 25.

Even more surprising during an era in which most have to settle for less, the worthiness of the project appeared to trump the fact that one of the requesters was the daughter of a school board member.

Before the presentation by LaToya M. Myers, executive director of the Historic East Linden Project, and Katie Perigo, the instructor for its “Study Buddies” program, school board member Dominic F. Perigo Jr. acknowledged the family connection. However, other board members expressed eagerness to expand the request after hearing about the initiative.

The women explained that the program, which includes dinner, serves 20 to 30 underprivileged district students in kindergarten through fifth grade three days a week after school. Utilizing a core of volunteers – ranging from Kennett Square police officers to high school students – the children receive help with homework and communication skills. A key component of the instruction comes through online programs such as Study Island and First in Math.

Myers and Perigo said five computers from the 1990s are rotated among the children, who view them as “a reward.” Most of the families don’t have computers at home, and even if they did, don’t have parents able to use them, the women said. In an ideal world, they would have a computer for each child, they said.

In response to board members’ questions, Dan Maguire, the district’s supervisor of technology services, said he had planned to donate five 2006 iMac computers with virtually no resale value to the group. “We can donate more,” he said. Superintendent Barry W. Tomasetti pointed out that the school district benefits from the enrichment the Study Buddies program provides. The board agreed to work with the program and amended its motion to include “no more than 25 computers” if and when they become available.

In other business, the board voted to approve a revised table of organization that changes Mark T. Tracy’s title from director of business administration to assistant to the superintendent, a lateral move with no pay increase.

Tracy reported that the recently passed state budget would provide the district with about $191,000 more than expected. Board member Michael H. Finnegan suggested the board might want to consider establishing a stabilization fund “to buffer the bad years.”

According to Tracy, the past year was a good one for food services, which netted $25,655. “Most school districts are losing money in the cafeteria program,” noted Tomasetti. Tracy attributed the profit to good management.

However, to keep the program in the black, the board voted to approve higher prices for the upcoming school year. Breakfasts for all students will increase from $1.25 to $1.50; elementary lunches will go from $2.25 to $2.50; and middle- and high-school lunches will rise to $2.75 from $2.50.

Nancy L. Tischer, director of human resources, announcement the retirement of Jeanne Hutton, a 29-year guidance counselor at the high school. The board expressed thanks to Hutton for all the lives she touched in a positive way during her tenure.

Tischer said that 50 of the 66 employees who lost jobs when the district outsourced its employees instructional and teaching assistants will be returning, having been hired by CCRES Educational and Behavioral Health Services.




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