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Schools’ Technology To Be Funded By Microsoft Settlement

By Staff | Jan 19, 2010

All four Palo Alto County schools join more than 1,000 other Iowa schools in reaping the benefits of a class-action lawsuit settlement. The Iowa School Microsoft Settlement program is the result of the 2007 settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by Iowa consumers and businesses against Microsoft software.

According to the settlement, Iowa schools would receive a portion of the funds not claimed by consumers, which amounts to more than $60 million. The funds will be distributed through vouchers for the purchase of new technology. Approximately 75-percent of Iowa’s public schools are eligible to participate in the program, based on their free and reduced lunch rates.

The funds must be used on computer hardware and software that assists a school in the implementation of the Iowa Core Curriculum, a statewide effort to improve teaching and learning to ensure that all Iowa students engage in a rigorous and relevant curriculum that addresses essential skills. The goal is to unite all Iowa schools with a common curriculum and focused teacher professional development. School districts in Iowa must have a plan in place by the summer of 2010.

Microsoft Settlement dollars must be used to supplement, not replace, technology purchases by a school. Vouchers can be redeemed for thousands of eligible products from numerous companies, not just from Microsoft.

Locally, the Emmetsburg Community School District will see a total of $122,011.08 come its way. Graettinger School will receive $37,520.60; Ruthven-Ayrshire Community School will receive $46,152.66; and $60,320.17 will go to the West Bend-Mallard Community School District.

“We have no definite decision as of yet what we’ll use the funding for,” said West Bend-Mallard Superintendent Nancy Schmitz. “We’re looking over our technology needs right now. There’s a lot of different uses for the money.”

Ruthven-Ayrshire Superintendent Erv Rowlands shared that his district will use the funding for expenses related to the 21st Century Skills and Iowa Core Curriculum.

The Graettinger-Terril Community School District will also use the Microsoft settlement funds to help support the Iowa Core Curriculum.

“Though we have not finalized a detailed plan, we may use the money to provide additional resources in the area of reading comprehension,” said Jesse Ulrich, Middle School Principal at Graettinger-Terril.

According to 5-12 Principal Jay Jurrens, the Emmetsburg Community School District will earmark the funding to assist students and teachers in strengthening reading skills throughout the district.

“Emmetsburg Schools will use its share of the funding to meet the literacy component of the Iowa Core Curriculum,” said Jurrens.

The money is part of a $179.95 million settlement in a class action suit against Microsoft Corporation alleging that Microsoft overcharged Iowa consumers and businesses for certain products. The Iowa School Microsoft Settlement program was established under the settlement so that Iowa schools would receive approximately half of the funds not claimed by consumers.

Vouchers will be distributed in January 2010. Schools will have until August 16, 2013 to redeem their vouchers.