Free program puts excess DoD computers in local schools

Photo courtesy Fort Polk Guardian
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 9:07pm

Thanks to the initiative of a Fort Polk Soldier and the willingness of a brigade commander to get his unit involved in the local community, a Vernon Parish school now has a new supply of computers — for free.

When it came time for Sgt. 1st Class Michel Buterbaugh, property book NCO and master resiliency trainer for Fort Polk's 162nd Infantry Brigade, to move some unused computers from his unit’s property books, he remembered a program his unit had participated in while he was stationed at Camp McCoy, Wis.

“There’s a program called ‘Computers for Learning’ that allows units to donate their old computers and related equipment to local schools or nonprofit agencies that promote learning,” Buterbaugh said. “I spoke to our commander (Col. Jim Brown) about it and he was for it.”

Brown said when Buterbaugh approached him, his first thought was, “Let’s do this.

“I wanted to know how quickly we could make it happen and what were the roadblocks we faced in getting it done.”

Before the 162nd could donate the equipment, they had to find a school that was registered in the program administered by the Defense Logistic Agency’s Disposition Services. To Buterbaugh’s dismay, there were no schools in Louisiana that were signed up. That didn’t stop the outgoing Buterbaugh from doing what he could for students in the community surrounding Fort Polk.

“I went to Rosepine Elementary School and spoke to their principal to see if they might be interested in what we had to offer,” Buterbaugh said. “The answer was a resounding, ‘Yes.’”

RPE principal Carolyn Bosely said enrolling in the program was a no-brainer.

“He (Buterbaugh) approached me about the program and was helpful in getting us signed up,” Bosely said. “Some of our computers are outdated, and with the focus now on common core curriculum, these computers will be a tremendous help.”

Soldiers from the 162nd Inf Bde delivered the computers to Rosepine Elementary March 5. RPE student Jordan Cooper, 10, said he was happy to get the computers.

“They probably run a lot faster than the ones we have now,” he said. “The ones we have run real slow.”

Hannah Cortez, 12, was also happy.

“The new computers will help us in our study for the LEAP tests,” she said. “And, they’re fun.”

The Computers for Learning Program is an offshoot of Executive Order 12999, Educational Technology: Ensuring Opportunities for all Children into the Next Century. The order encourages agencies — to the extent permitted by law — to transfer or donate computers and related peripheral equipment excess directly to schools and some educational nonprofit organizations. The CFL program specifically matches the computer needs of schools and educational nonprofit organizations with excess equipment in the Department of Defense.

The program’s goal is to make modern computer technology an integral part of each classroom so that every child has the opportunity to be educated to his or her full potential.

CFL offers the following:

  • Free computer equipment, including monitors, CPUs, projectors, mice, keyboards, laptops, hubs, routers and more;
     
  • Taxpayer savings;
     
  • Greener disposal, as opposed to landfills;
     
  • Enhanced education opportunities for children.


Schools and educational nonprofit organizations located in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands can receive computer equipment through the CFL program. A school is eligible to participate if it is a public, private or parochial school serving some portion of the pre-kindergarten through 12th grade population.

Home schools must meet their state’s requirements to participate. Day care centers must provide a state-approved preschool curriculum to participate.

The program is free. Those chosen to participate do not pay for excess computer equipment they receive through the program. Some of the computer equipment might need some upgrading, but all property received from the CFL program is at no cost. Schools and educational nonprofits are responsible for picking up or arranging for shipment of requisitioned equipment.

Jackie Self, Vernon Parish School superintendent, said the computers would be put to good use.

“A lot of our testing is now done on computers,” he said. “And these computers are compatible with our systems.”

Self said that with Rosepine’s success in the CFL program, he foresees more parish schools signing up.

“I’m putting Mrs. Bosely on the agenda for our next (school board) meeting so she can let the other principals know how to go about signing up,” Self said. “Computers are a real asset to education and the more we have, the better.”

Brown said he would continue to look for ways for his unit to work with the local community.

“Back when our fathers and grandfathers were in the Army, it was common for communities and Army posts to work together,” he said. “We kind of got away from that, but now we’re heading back in that direction, and I want to do anything we can to help bring the local community and our unit closer together.”

For more information on the CFL program visit www.dispositionservices.dla.mil/rtd03/cfl.

Fort Polk & Military News

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