FEBRUARY 24, 1997

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School

Northshore evaluating its classroom computers

classroom computers by Jeff Switzer, senior staff reporter
The Northshore School District will use 1996 voter-approved levy dollars to continue purchasing Macintosh computers for its schools, but in response to Apple Computer's bad press and financial losses, the district is looking at a possible long-term "migration" to the Windows platform.
   The Northshore Technology Advisory Committee, with members from the school district and business community, recommended that the school district continue with Macs and protect the investment represented by years of experience and training, software purchases, and support systems. The committee also believes that the same reason Northshore went with Apple years ago holds true today, citing the Mac's ease of use, speed, and lower support costs.
   According to Dr. Karen Forys, Northshore's superintendent, "moving forward on this plan has taken longer than anticipated due to the need to examine the district's commitment to Apple Computer."
   Voters passed the 1996 Technology Levy in February 1996, which promised at least two computers in each classroom. Forys says the deliveries are expected in March and April.
   Northshore has a mix of Macs and PCs, but to expand the use of PCs now would break the school district's budget by requiring more staff, training, and software. PCs tend to be used more in the workplace, but the committee felt that operational differences between Macs and PCs "have diminished and will continue to do so."
   The ability to use computers for writing, communicating, accessing and processing information, creating, and learning is transferable to any platform, the committee added, and the school district is designing standards for students kindergarten through 12th grade.
   When students bring work from home that was done on a PC, the newest Macs at any given school should be able to translate the information. According to the district, training and materials will be increasingly available to "make this process practical and simple."
   A memo from the committee outlined the future Mac and PC issue, noting Apple's plans for a new operating system and the district's ability to fully run it once it's released. "If accepted by the market and software developers, this OS will greatly enhance the performance and value of those computers," the memo stated.