Golden Leaf grant accepted

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Board of Education moved forward with a $750,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation.

During their July 3 meeting the board officially accepted the grant after receiving information about the first year of funding from the school district.

In June, the board decided to hold off on official acceptance of the grant so they could study the implementation procedures from Golden Leaf and also so they could be updated on how the system would pay for its part of the funding.

The three-quarter of a million dollars grant will provide a laptop computer to every high school student in the district. Chief Technology Officer Mark Samberg said the three high schools in the system would work on differing schedules to provide the laptops, but that none of them would likely be distributed before February.

During last week’s meeting the board initially was set to table the grant acceptance, but decided to hear from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins on the matter.

“We have learned that we’re being funded by e-rate in wave one so we are eligible for discounted billing this year,” Harris-Rollins said. “That discount will be significant enough to cover the matching cost for the Golden Leaf for this year.”

Board Chair Gloria Lee asked if it were possible the funding would also be available for the second year.

“It’s always a possibility, it’s never a guarantee,” Samberg said. “The e-rate program is continuing to change the way we do things. The fact we got funded in wave one is really unprecedented, but great.

“In years past we would get funded later in the year and then request reimbursement,” he continued. “This year we don’t have to do that. We’ll just get the discount right off the top.”

Samberg said the full amount was budgeted because it had to be covered, but would now be reduced by 89 percent.

“So that funding we thought we were going to need to pay for internet and telephone we will be able to shift over and use for the Golden Leaf grant,” he said.

Samberg said he was also working to make sure the program would continue long-term, even after the Golden Leaf grant had been expended.

Harris-Rollins said the sooner the board approved the grant the better it would be.

“I don’t want them to have an inclination we don’t want it,” board member Rickey Freeman said. “We don’t want to jeopardize anything.”

Board Vice Chair Emma Johnson then made a motion to accept the grant and it was approved by a unanimous vote of the board.