School district benefits from bank's unsolicited donation
A Mitchell bank has made an unsolicited donation to help fix computers in the Mitchell School District's troubled laptop program. The bank's local president, in turn, says he hopes others in town will consider making similar donations to the dist...
A Mitchell bank has made an unsolicited donation to help fix computers in the Mitchell School District's troubled laptop program.
The bank's local president, in turn, says he hopes others in town will consider making similar donations to the district when the need arises.
First Dakota National Bank gave $5,000 to help pay for repairs for the laptop computers, helping ease a district-wide problem that has been exacerbated by the bankruptcy of the MPC Corporation, which owned most of the company that sold the computers to the district and which promised to make repairs to damaged units.
"This $5,000 will take care of a specific need right now and get them going," said Lance Koth, president of the Mitchell market of First Dakota National Bank. "That doesn't mean that next year they won't run into the same problems. There are a lot of things happening out there. In addition to the $5,000, I'm inclined to visit with business associates and say 'If you are so inclined, why don't you visit with the school district and ask what can we possibly do? What are the needs?' "
This school year, the district has been hit with double bad news. A decline in enrollment and budget proposals by Gov. Mike Rounds could cause a drop in state financial aid to the school, and it also has been stuck with a batch of broken laptops when Gateway, partially owned by the MPC Corporation, went under. It doesn't appear the company will honor its contractual obligations to service the computers it sold to the district.
At present, the school district has approximately 160 laptops in need of warranty repair. To counteract the problem, the district recalled computers from ninth-graders and redistributed them to the upper grade levels. Students at the middle school are practicing computer partnerships.
The $5,000 from First Dakota National was matched by the district.
Mitchell schools Superintendent Joe Graves said companies have been located that can fix the computers, but the district did not have adequate funding until First Dakota National offered support. The $10,000 -- including the $5,000 from the bank and $5,000 in match money from the district -- will be used entirely for repairing computers. At present, about $6,000 has been allotted for the repairs, and the remaining money will be kept in savings for future fixes.
Graves said many computers already are in for work and could be back as soon as early next week.
"Even with some continuing breakdowns we're now able to make enough repairs to keep the program working well," said Graves. "This is kind of an amazing thing. They came to us, and it was incredibly generous."
Koth said the idea of donating funds to fix laptops came as he learned of the program's troubles.
"In visiting with a number of folks in our bank who have freshmen students, I found out things I really didn't know," he said. "I found out that the assignments, the reports, the tests -- those type of things -- are not only done on the computer, but are sent to the teacher's computer. I didn't know that.
"This is vital. Laptops are core to the methods. We can't take those computers away."