Cardwell, MO (KAIT) – The budget cuts at schools is being made across that board, but there is one Missouri school that is using the stimulus money to its advantage. The literacy rate in region eight is low. According to the 2008 U.S. census, Arkansas ranked 48th, while Missouri was a little bit better at 28th. How about computer software that brings a ninety-six percent success rate when it comes to reading. Southland school in Cardwell has purchased laptops with this "text to speak" software. "Anything that'll come up on the screen it will read to the students. So, they just put the ear phones in their ears and it reads right to them. It's there to assist them when the teacher's not there," says Raymond Lasley, the Superintendent at Southland.
Southland school is the 10th school in Missouri to receive these laptops, equipped with the software. They are the first school to use them at the junior high level, but only certain students can qualify. "Low reading levels and high listening levels, that's the type of child this software is intended to help," Lasley says.
The school only has twenty-two laptops now; just eight have actually been passed out. They are also equip with excel, Microsoft Office, and the Internet. The student is able to use it throughout the year, but must turn it in at the end of every semester. Lasley says, "The kids are excited. They just could not wait for when I began to tell them that they had qualified for one. They couldn't wait to get a hold of that computer. They kept asking is mine ready today?"
The students have only had the laptops for two weeks, but the schools hoping in the long run that the results will be beneficial. "The longer a child gets to use it and builds on what he's learned in years past I think it's going to have a great benefit on their grades for what they make on state tests is going to be improved," he says.
The best part about it is the school does not have to pay a dime out of pocket. "The state's paying all the expenses. The only thing they didn't buy was the earphones and the backpacks to put them in.
With all the budget cuts and money worries, Lasley says the government grant to get the laptops was beneficial. "This year we've had to cut back five teachers for next year. But the state gave us the money for these computers. It didn't cost Southland but it is a great benefit for these students they'll almost become their own teacher."