When students at Shaw Road Elementary arrive this fall, their ability to succeed will be enhanced, thanks to a donation of more than two dozen laptops from the school’s parent-teacher association. The estimated value is $24,000.
“We determined the need by doing a poll of teachers at the school, asking them what they wanted to spend money on,” said Laura Santos, co-president of the Shaw Road PTA. “A majority of teachers said better access to computers and a fuller computer lab.”
The 35 laptops will include 20 as part of a roving mobile cart that can be shared among classrooms. The cart is valued at $4,000, Santos said.
Of the remaining 15 laptops, four will add to the school’s computer lab to take the total to 31, enough to accommodate a full classroom. The other 11 will be spread across classrooms where there is a need.
Many will be added to overcrowded classrooms, where the number of students can be as many as 33.
“I know a couple of classes will be hovering around 30 to 31 next year,” Santos said. “Having that access as a constant will allow (students) to take online tests during class without having to arrive to school early.
“Technology is the way it’s going. The more technology we can have available at the elementary level is really important.”
The $24,000 was raised during the past four to five years from a variety of fundraisers that included participation from parents, students and teachers, Santos said. At the Walk-a-Thon at the school in May, $3,800 was raised, she said.
The upgrade complements a larger effort by the Puyallup School District to make technology investments at all schools. Randy Averill, the school district’s executive director of technology services, said the district is replacing and upgrading computers at all schools.
At Shaw Road, for example, the district plans to purchase a mobile laptop cart to match the one the PTA donated.
“The PTA was able to go above and beyond the district,” Averill said. “The PTA contribution helps to leverage the work.”
Averill said the technology challenges faced by schools like Shaw Road include an inability to provide enough computers to students who need to complete online assessments.
“This was very much a challenge at Shaw Road,” Averill said. “We had to transport two carts (of 40 computers) between Shaw Road, Stewart and Wildwood Park schools to support the online assessments this past school year. Students at each school had to test in a shorter window. With the PTA donation, and our other summer enhancements, we do not anticipate having to do that again next year. This will make scheduling for online assessments easier.”
Overall, Averill said the PTA donation and support from the district will help bring Shaw Road more in line with other schools and provide greater technology parity.
“Shaw Road was one of the outliers,” Averill said. “Their ratio of students to computers was the second highest in the district.”
Brouillet was ranked first, and the district plans to make investments there, too.
Averill said the PTA donation will get first priority. Computers should be purchased this summer and in classrooms by this fall.
Shaw Road Principal Judy Piger couldn’t be happier.
“We are sitting really nice next year with computers,” she said. “Our PTA has been great. They really work to help us out.”
Piger said the PTA also helped the school to purchase Smart Boards four years ago.
“We have a Smart Board in each of our teaching spaces,” she said. “What’s critical is the PTA, students, staff and community are all working together. This is something that everyone can be proud of.”Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.