Fresno Unified, Clovis schools get tech grants

Millions of dollars in new federal funding will bring iPads, netbooks and other high-tech gadgets to local school districts, which learned Monday they are getting federal grants to improve technology.

The California Department of Education announced Monday that 151 school districts and schools will receive $36.4 million in technology funding.

Nine districts, including Fresno Unified, will receive $1 million or more. Fresno Unified plans to focus on improving its student information system, which monitors student performance and allows educators to more quickly identify which students need extra help. The district's grant will help teachers and staff improve their understanding of the student information system and also pay for computer hardware and program upgrades, said district spokeswoman Susan Bedi.

Clovis Unified's $500,000 grant will pay for a laptop computer loan program for junior high students who can't afford their own laptops or do not have Internet connections at home.

The district will buy 600 to 650 laptops with wireless Internet cards, said Kelly Avants, district spokeswoman. She said the program should be under way in early 2011.

Madera Unified will get $140,000 that will pay for iPads at Desmond Middle School that will be used for digital math textbooks and other middle school curriculum, spokesman Jake Bragonier said.

Funding for the grants comes from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Grants to California schools will total $36.4 million and will be administered through the state's Enhancing Education Through Technology Grant program.

Central Unified and Porterville Unified school districts received $250,000 grants. Sanger Unified, Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District and Reef-Sunset Unified will each get $50,000 grants. Also, the School of Unlimited Learning, a charter school in Fresno, will receive a $10,000 grant.

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