Taking a chance for technology

Rutherford Elementary needs your vote to win $50K grant

Rutherford Elementary is about to take a chance on technology and they need the community’s help.

The school has applied for a Clorox Co. “Power a Bright Future” event with a grand prize of $50,000. The catch: they need to get votes.

If Rutherford receives the grant, they will use it to improve the computer lab and technology offerings at the school. There is a second prize of $25,000 and a judges’ choice round as well.

The Rutherford PTA found out about the grant through the school’s Tech Paraprofessional Ruth Warbalow who heard a blurb about the contest on TV and decided to apply. As of today, Rutherford is currently 40th in a nominee pool of more than 1,500, so they can use a boost.

“We have such great teacher and student support and now we’d like to get the community engaged as well,” Warbalow said.

After last year’s school levies failed, technology was cut, which made it challenging for schools to keep up with technology advances.

“Currently the status of the computer lab that they have the original e-Macs which are probably 12 years old,” said PTA member Patty Neff. “The processing chip no longer allows us to upgrade and we can’t run the latest versions of some search engines or softwares.”

There are also an insufficient number of computers to serve classes that come into the lab.

“There’s not enough to service a class of 30,” Warbalow said. “We do have old iBooks which the kids can use as well, but some of them are missing keys and when you’re practicing typing you can’t have a keyboard with missing keys.”

The computers are also used to accomplish school benchmarks and tackle the Minnesota standards, which Neff says is tough to do if students don’t have the proper equipment.

If Rutherford wins the grand prize grant, Warbalow wants to upgrade the computer lab, but she’d also like to try and get a full set of 30 laptops for the school’s houses, or multi-age classrooms. She added that the computer lab is used throughout the summer as well for their summer Adventure Club Program that serves an average of 90 students. The computers are used for a least one hour a day, she noted.

“Every day it seems I hear, ‘The computer shut me down,’ and our computer lab is dwindling slowly,” Warbalow said. “As software become newer and newer, a lot of frustration occurs when the computers can’t work with it and that can even frustrate the kids.”

This contest is the latest creative solution that various ISD 834 schools have participated in after last year’s levy failure.

“I know the levy (last year) didn’t get passed, and anything we can do to lessen tax money is good,” Neff said. “If it can help us achieve our goal it’s one less thing for (the community) to support with taxes and that money can be spent elsewhere by the district if need be.”