Life in the slow lane

The Information Age meets the technological Stone Age at Dallas schools

While DISD now has one computer for every 12 students, Allen wants to provide one for every three. He also wants to place a full-time technician in every school and find a way to pay competitive wages.

His plan has a few built-in problems. One school board member who voted against it earlier this year, Don Venable, describes it as "one of these unfortunate projects that's two years behind the curve." His main objection, though, is that it's only a blueprint--no money is attached to it.

"It's absolutely necessary to have a technology plan--but give us the details," Venable says. "The board is supposed to be involved in appropriations, not speculations."

Allen hopes to put the plan in place by winning grants and soliciting donations. That's where Kate Thompson comes in. In addition to her other duties--such as fielding work orders for broken copy machines--she tries to persuade government agencies and corporations to turn over their used computers. Anything at or above a 486 66 MHz or a Macintosh LCII is considered a prize.

Among other trouble spots, she's working on upgrading the computer labs in DISD's high schools.

At Bryan Adams, that would mean a lot. A stash of 486s, after all, would catapult the computer lab into the early 1990s--and allow students to run Windows.

Says Allen: "It's obvious: Our students need to be prepared for the kind of job markets they will encounter."

Kate Thompson is accepting donations of new and used computers at (214) 989-8083.

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