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Auditor Criticizes State Program With Local Benefit

Putting laptops in classrooms.

Putting laptops in classrooms.

HARRISBURG PA – Supervision of Pennsylvania’s “Classrooms for the Future” grants, which helped the Pottsgrove School District supply its high school teachers with laptop computers, was criticized Monday (Dec. 22, 2008) in a new audit that contends the program needs better oversight statewide.

Only the state Education Department, and not the district, was targeted in the review released by Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Wagner’s audit claims the department didn’t do enough to ensure proper equipment was purchased with program money, didn’t ensure the equipment was sufficiently protected against loss or theft, and failed to tell some school disticts why their grant requests were rejected, according to an Associated Press report. The Education Department characterized Wagner’s observations as “suggestions for minor administrative changes” that it would look into.

The 3-year-old, $155 million program pays for laptop computers for high-school mathematics, science, English and history classrooms. This July, Pottsgrove won $153,356 in Classrooms for the Future money, along with three other Montgomery County districts: Spring-Ford, Upper Moreland, and Upper Perkiomen. Overall, the program has helped 543 high schools across 453 districts, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Expanding the use of technology in Pottsgrove classrooms is one of several goals in its six-year strategic plan. In a September statement reviewing those goals, district Superintendent Dr. Bradley Landis said during this school year the district will “focus on training” teachers to better use technology for student instruction.

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