February 25, 2004

Schools benefit from joint SIUC, federal agency effort

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. - When it comes to classroom fun, today's kids rave about what they learn on the Internet. Yet poorer school districts can't always afford to stock as many computers as students - and teachers - might like.

SIUC's John C. Davis let the USDA's Rusty Wanstreet know the agency's 11 older personal computers would be welcome additions at 10 of the region's public schools.So when a Southern Illinois University Carbondale education coordinator heard a nearby U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, office was about to get new computers, he jumped in as matchmaker.

Davis, in turn, arranged for placement of the machines in 10-member schools.Wanstreet, a rural development specialist, got the federal OK to transfer the gizmos to the SIUC Saluki Kids Academy, an educational outreach program that works to increase the number of college-bound young people from historically disadvantaged public schools in deep Southern Illinois.

Shaping cooperative ventures throughout the region is among the goals of Southern@150, the long-range blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

A list of the recipient schools, by town:School administrators are "very excited and very appreciative" of what Davis calls the first such collaboration of its kind between a federal agency, the Kids Academy and area schools.

  • Buncombe: Buncombe Elementary
  • Cairo: Bennett Elementary, Cairo Junior High and Cairo High School
  • Dongola: Dongola High School
  • Mounds: Meridian Elementary and Meridian High School
  • Tamms: Egyptian Junior High and Egyptian High School
  • Ullin: Century High School.

Limited funding in school districts limits technology purchases - despite the increased need for technology to help students meet state and federal education standards," Davis explains. "Thanks to generous gifts like this one, some area schools will be able to expand the number of computers students may use."