Miss. puts networked PC in every classroom

Mississippi, which often ranks near the bottom in national education scores, is leading the nation as the first state to have a PC with Internet access in each of the state's 32,354 public classrooms.

Two years ago, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove set the goal of having a networked PC in every classroom by the end of 2002, said John Sewell, a spokesman for the governor's office.

A mixture of public and private money funded the project. State taxpayers paid $6 million, and $40 million worth of hardware and training came from federal funding and private donations, Sewell said. Former Netscape Communications Corp. chief executive Jim Barksdale, a native Mississippian, donated $500,000.

The state's high-school students built about 6,000 of the computers through the Blitz Build program sponsored by ExplorNet, a nonprofit organization in Raleigh, N.C., that trains teachers to teach students how to build PCs. The assembly kits, costing about $685 each, had 15-inch monitors, 1-GHz processors, 40G hard and CD-ROM drives, network cards and Microsoft Windows 98.

Musgrove also approved a pay package that will lift the state's ranking for teacher salaries from 49th to 19th, Sewell said. Sixty-two percent of the 2004 budget the governor submitted would go to education'about $2.4 billion.

'Education is really the governor's bailiwick,' Sewell said.

Representatives of the National Governors Association confirmed that Mississippi met the goal of an online PC in every classroom, Sewell said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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