BP gives tech bucks to school

Published on Thu, Jun 7, 2001 by Brendan Shriane

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BP gives tech bucks to school

By Brendan Shriane

Blaine school district is receiving $100,000 from BP for technology training, including the purchase of laptop computers for home usage by low-income students. BP will give $20,000 in cash and in-kind mentoring to the school district for each of the next five years.

Scott Walker of BP’s Cherry Point refinery said this donation is part of its overall policy of supporting the community. “When Gordon Dolman approached us about this sponsorship, we thought it was a good idea,” Walker said. “Youth in education is one of our major areas of contribution and this initiative is tech-related, which is our area.”

The district needed matching funds from a business partner to qualify for interest-free loans from the federal government through its Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) program. The three-year-old QZAB is designed to get technology into low-income communities. In addition to the business partnership, Blaine school district had to show more than 35 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The new laptops will be lent out to kids who don’t have computers. “Having a computer at home will allow them to keep up with other students who do,” school district business manager Joanne Freeman said. She estimates 60 percent of Blaine students have computers at home. Not letting kids get behind is extremely important and is why the district pursued this bond. “That’s the goal here,” Freeman said.

In addition to buying laptops for the school district the bond will help pay for new hardware in computer labs and new fiber optic cable.

Banks that buy the bonds get a tax credit instead of paying interest. The bonds themselves will be repaid after 15 years. The district will invest the money and repay it in one lump sum, instead of making yearly payments.

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