Mississippi School Receives Large Gift of Equipment

KILN, Miss. – Students at Hancock County Middle School, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, received a large gift May 12 – more than 200 computers and 100 printers valued at almost $1 million.

The donation, part of the Furniture for Schools Task Force, a new federal initiative, comes at a much needed time as much of the school’s computer equipment was damaged by flooding from the storm. Now, each classroom will have more computers, and students will have access to the latest computer technology.

Deputy Education Secretary Ray Simon, along with Mississippi Education Superintendent Hank Bounds, General Services Administration Regional Representative Ed Fielder and other federal, state and local education officials, and community leaders were at Hancock County Middle School on Friday, May 12, to make the donation.

“We continue to strive to ensure that children displaced by Hurricane Katrina have as little disruption to their education as possible,” Deputy Secretary Simon said. “Certainly, these computers and printers will help students at Hancock Middle School stay connected to cyberspace, because in today’s world, information technology reigns supreme. At the U.S. Department of Education, we are studying the importance of using education technology to help enhance student achievement.”

The Furniture for Schools Task Force-a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Education, the General Services Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense – contributes federal surplus furniture and other supplies to schools in the Gulf Coast region affected by Hurricane Katrina. The initiative is one component of the federal government’s Hurricane for Help for Schools. To date, more than 5,000 pieces of furniture and equipment valued at more than $2.6 million have been donated to schools in the Gulf Coast region.

Schools’ needs also are matched with donations from companies, organizations and individuals through the Hurricane Help for Schools Web site, www.ed.gov/Katrina, maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. Schools may post their contact information and private donors may contact them directly. Donors also may list supplies and resources that they are able to provide. The Department is working continuously to stay in contact with chief state school officers, state departments of education and school districts to identify schools’ needs.

In addition to the new task force and the Web page, Secretary Spellings led a number of other efforts to help the students affected by the hurricane, including a series of roundtable meetings of education officials, mental-health experts, teachers and school officials. These sessions helped her to gather information about the hurricane’s impact on displaced children and the schools that welcomed these students.

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