Nov 4, 2011 6:31 PM by Drew Trafton
BILLINGS - It's hard to find anyone who has spent time around a computer who hasn't experienced some sort of frustrating experience involving a random computer shutdown.
For the534 students at Will James working on one of their 74 available and functional computers (a ratio of 7:1), this experience is a common occurrence while performing tasks at school.
"A lot of the functionality of the 6-year-old computers was losing data," says Parent Advisory Committee member Kim Prill. "We've got students spending entire hours on projects and the data is just wiped away."
What's more frustrating for the staff of the school is the amount of time it took students to complete state testing earlier this year.
Usually, the testing takes around 3 days to complete if students have adequate resources: at Will James Middle School, that process took 3 weeks.
"Given the technology advances we have, 6 years is a long time in technology," said Prill. "When we graduate our students, whether it's from an elementary, junior high or high school level, we're moving to a paperless society, everything that is done is done via technology. It's an important investment."
Students will undergo another round of testing this spring-but a computer lab fundraising committee made up of parents and the staff at the school are confident they have a solution to the problem : 30 new computers which will cost the school $30,000.
Unfortunately, the technology levy passed last spring in the school district only applies to high schools in Billings, and the school does not qualify for any TITLE funding.
In order to offset the cost of the computers, the students are being asked to raise 30% of the money through a 2 week long fundraiser selling an item which will speak to the heart of a web-surfer stereotype: coffee.
The school is teaming up with City Brew to sell "computer blend" coffee to any interested party.
Students receive order forms Thursday afternoon and are expected to sell 5 bags of the coffee each.
However, the majority of the cost of the project will have to be met by generous community members who see the project and education as a wise investment.
"We've got a really strong foundation," said Prill.
"We've got a large community base of business support as well. So, we're hoping that some businesses, the families and the students can help us make our fundraising goal."
On Friday, we'll bring you more on the project from the perspective of a few students taking part in the fundraising.
If you would like to contribute to the fundraiser, you can call Will James Middle School at 406-281-6100.