Iowa City Schools Campaign Seeks $2 Million for Technology

By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa – A $2 million campaign will try to get 21st century technology in every classroom in the Iowa City school district.

The Iowa City Community School District Foundation, a private nonprofit that raises money for the district, launched the public phase of its "EveryClassroom" campaign on Tuesday.

The goal is to get three pieces of equipment in every classroom in the district: interactive whiteboards, document cameras and multimedia projectors.

Some of the district's 800 classrooms already have the items, and the foundation said the $2 million would help equip about 500 rooms and to train teachers.

The items were selected because of their interactivity and for the synergy between them, said Superintendent Stephen Murley.

An interactive whiteboard is like a combination of a whiteboard and a computer, and students can use their fingers and other objects to manipulate things on a screen. A document camera displays in real time things like text or 3D objects. And a multimedia projector can display various kinds of media, including images from a computer.

Liam Barron, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Iowa City's Grant Wood Elementary School, praised interactive whiteboards in a video shown at an event Tuesday attended by about 50 people, including educators, campaign supporters and members of the public.

"It's easier for the teacher to show us things, and it's easier to learn," he said.

Jon Whitmore, CEO of Iowa City-based ACT, said children need to be prepared for an increasingly technologically savvy and connected world.

"ACT knows that educational success depends on access for everyone, equity and excellence," he said. "The EveryClassroom campaign is a significant step forward" in each of those.

Two audits from a year ago found the district had significant technology shortcomings and a large discrepancy between schools in what equipment they had.

Until now, the two main funding sources for these items have been parent organizations and money from a national settlement with Microsoft that goes to schools with a certain percentage of low-income students.

Since the silent phase of the campaign started last summer, $1.5 million of the $2 million goal has been raised. ACT contributed $250,000, Coralville-based Integrated DNA Technologies gave $200,000 and Iowa City couple Herb and Janice Wilson donated another $200,000.

That money is being spent as it comes in, and some classes have already been outfitted. As of January, about 550 of the district's 800 classrooms had all three items, said David Dude, the district's chief operating officer and chief technology officer.

Since its creation in 1981, the school district foundation has raised more than $4 million for a variety of projects.

"We have never had an undertaking of this magnitude," said Victoria Gilpin, the foundation's executive director.
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