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Posted on Dec 4, 2015

Microsoft donation will build upon QSD programs

Microsoft is investing in Quincy students’ education with a $50,500 donation, almost all of which is for technology training and equipment.
“They’ve been slowly but surely increasing their giving to Quincy,” said Alex Ybarra, Quincy School District Board of Directors president. “Jack Eaton is the person we’ve been working with. He’s always asking to see what Microsoft can support. This is the first big effort he got going.”
The company’s donation is broken into six separate allocations.
The district received $12,000 to help sponsor drone clubs at Quincy High School, the High Tech High School and Quincy Junior High School. Another $12,000 was given for student club support at those schools.
A $5,000 gift will allow all staff and students to get Microsoft Office 365 training during the 2015-16 school year. An equal amount will support sports teams that don’t receive full funding from the district.
“The district doesn’t have money to pay for all the equipment and uniforms that are needed for a lot of our clubs,” Ybarra said. “Some of the junior high teams have uniforms that have been out there 10 or 15 years.”
Also included in the funding package is $10,000 for 10 new interactive classroom projectors. That builds on the addition of 15 such projectors with Microsoft and district money a year ago.
One of the donation’s major components will fund the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program. The $6,500 earmarked for that purpose will let high school students develop a foundation in computer science while helping sustain the district’s overall computer programs.
It is part of Microsoft’s effort to expand the TEALS program this year to 11 new Washington schools, including Quincy. Ybarra said it’s a great way for students to build skills that will help them become more employable in the future.
Professional computer science instructors will lead the class via Skype while a Quincy High teacher is in the classroom to help. Ybarra said programming is one of the skills TEALS students will acquire.
“This is perfect timing for the kids,” he said. “We’re a farming community and don’t have many people who know how to program. We are getting into a new world and the kids need to know this.”
The programs will continue whether or not voters approve a Feb. 9, 2016, bond measure to renovate Quincy schools and build a new high school, according to district technology director Chris Molitor.
“The TEALS program has really taken off in the high school,” she added.
Meanwhile, the district is in the process of upgrading classrooms for wireless technology. That funding comes from a nationwide program that provides money from phone bill taxes to help schools. The money is allocated based on the percentage of students in a district who are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
The $200,000 project is scheduled to go live in mid-January, Molitor said. It will allow the district to comply with state-mandated assessment testing, she said.
In the past, it’s been difficult to find enough room to complete the computerized tests in time. With wireless in place, each classroom can accommodate many computers or other devices at once.
“We‘ve never had wireless in every classroom,” Molitor said.

— By Steve Kadel,

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