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Letcher group wants high-speed, wireless Internet in all classrooms

A nonprofit organization has a hefty goal of raising $150,000 to provide high-speed, wireless Internet access to every classroom in the Letcher County school district.

The Letcher County Education Foundation has raised $21,000 toward upgrading network infrastructure to include network equipment, switches, wireless access points and cables.

An improved network infrastructure, which is estimated to cost $500,000, is imperative for students and teachers to successfully connect to the Internet on electronic tablets, laptop computers and other pieces of technology in school facilities, according to Randy Bailey, district technology director.

“No matter where kids are at in a building, they will be able to connect to the Internet and have a good experience,” said Bailey.

The district has applied for discounts through the Schools and Libraries Program of the United Service Fund (the E-Rate Program) to assist in getting Internet access at reduced rates.

Letcher County Supt. Tony Sergent, an education foundation board member, said the education foundation’s latest fundraising project is one that will benefit all students in the district.

A few months ago the education foundation spent $50,314.64 on a two-sided, electronic sign for LCCHS.

Under the direction of former Supt. Anna Craft, the education foundation was formed on January 28, 2002.

“It’s a good way for community people to be involved to raise money for the school district to benefit students,” said Craft. “It was a good way for corporations to give to a nonprofit organization that they knew was going to be used for students and the educational community. It was a good thing to have and we ran a lot of good programs through it.”

Letcher County Board of Education Chairman Will Smith said the education foundation raised $500,000 for the construction of the Letcher County Area Technology Center, which is located adjacent to Letcher County Central High School at Ermine.

“It’s just a wonderful group to work with,” said Smith, who is also an education foundation board member.

By organizing golf scrambles and other fundraisers, the education foundation has financially supported drama programs and academic teams. The education foundation has purchased technology equipment, piano labs, musical instruments, science lab equipment and score tables. Four college scholarships are awarded to students each year.

“They have provided a great service, especially during the construction of the high school,” said Sergent.

The education foundation board of directors consists of Phillip Bentley, Peggy Childers, Elwood Cornett, Sandy Hogg, Henry E. Smith, Lina Tidal, Joan Hall Ward, Denise Yonts, Daniel Dotson, Terry Sturgill, Reed Caudill, Stephen Boggs, and Jenna Watts. Yonts is manager; Cornett is president; Childers is vice president; Tidal is secretary and treasurer; and Sergent is executive director.

“Those are generous people,” said Sergent. “They don’t ask for recognition. Their hearts are in the right place.”

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