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ARC Announces Netbook Computer Initiative for Decatur, Alabama, Schools

March 2011


DECATUR, ALABAMA, March 23, 2011—In an event hosted by the North Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments (NARCOG) today, ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl and Jim Byard, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, announced a grant in the amount of $191,480 to Decatur City Schools for a netbook computer initiative.

The initiative is part of the City of Decatur's efforts to use technology to reverse a trend of declining student attendance and achievement in the fifth grade. Currently, standardized reading test scores drop significantly and discipline referrals and absentee rates increase when students move from fourth to fifth grade.

Each one of the school system's 700 fifth-grade students will be given a mini netbook computer to enhance their learning environment. School officials anticipate that through this initiative, standardized test scores for reading and vocabulary will improve by at least five percentage points; average daily attendance will improve by two percentage points; and discipline referrals will decrease by three percentage points.

In making the announcement, Gohl said, "Quality education is essential to preparing Alabama's children to compete in the global economy, and ARC is committed to supporting programs such as this one in Decatur that raise educational achievement and attainment levels for students while promoting college attendance and preventing dropouts."

NARCOG's executive director, Neal Morrison, welcomed ARC's support for the initiative: "We're very proud to host this event that brings the ARC federal co-chair to Alabama and Morgan County. We're elated to see that ARC is still willing and able to help our region of the country support important educational initiatives as well as other quality-of-life programs." Morrison added, "Of course, without the support of our congressional delegation, these grants would not have been available."

In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $200,000, bringing the total project funding to $391,480.