Kids lose again

Published 11:29 pm Friday, November 12, 2010

To the Editor:

Last week, the Bertie School Board announced a program that will use $750 thousand dollars in Golden Leaf money to buy 10th through 12 grade students a Macbook portable computer. BOE member, Alton Parker hailed this project as, “the best technology we have had yet in Bertie County.” That is a sad statement.

Mr. Parker omitted why we are buying laptops, when 80 % of our students do not have internet connectivity at home. He said there would be internet hot spots where students could connect to the internet but how will they get there in this 600 square mile county? He forgot to tell you that Mac’s are way more expensive than PC desktops and more complex to maintain than desktops.

Mr. Parker is just trying to put the most positive spin on a project that does nothing much more than buy expensive computers. The system bought about 600 of these about 4 years ago and they have never left the middle school. Why buy expensive laptops for computers that stay at school and have no internet access at home. This past July, Mr. Parker led a last minute coup to tell Governor Purdue to not come to Bertie to Launch Connect Bertie. A Golden Leaf program worked on for almost two years which he knew about and supported. Connect Bertie would have more than doubled the internet infrastructure in Bertie County and put computers (owned by the schools)  in  more than 80% of Bertie’s school homes with internet connectivity paid for with Title One funds. In fact this project was voted on by the board and approved at a 2/23/2010 board meeting by a vote of 4-1.

Mr. Parker’s excuse for his last minute decision to not do Connect Bertie is going to be we could not afford that program. My story is we could not afford to not do Connect Bertie. Connect Bertie would have been a huge win for last mile connectivity in Bertie County connecting places like Indian Woods and Grabtown that private companies cannot justify to connect. It would have made Bertie the most connected last mile county in Northeastern NC. The county and education budget in Bertie is better than $50 million dollars annually. The commissioners and the Board of Education could not find a way to find $442,752 or  1 % of our annual spend to make Bertie the most connected county in Northeastern NC?

The real story is the county commissioners and Zee Lamb could not Connect Bertie and neither could the Board of Education. Dr. Chip Zullinger led this project and two members of the Board of Education finally gave in to political pressure and participated in a witch hunt to discredit Dr. Zullinger.

In the 1960s and 1970’s when everyone else was getting community colleges Bertie let that slip away and now we lose again.

Connect Bertie should have put Bertie County on the map as a visionary rural area. Instead it is lost to politics. Kids lose again!

John Davis

Merry Hill