Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 6, 2013

ARC grant will help McDowell County students get laptops

WELCH — Reconnecting McDowell is teaming up with the Appalachian Regional Commission to provide laptop computers to 785 middle school students in McDowell County, according to an announcement made Thursday afternoon by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

“Nearly 800 middle school students will soon have access to everyday technology which will open the door to new learning methods and make the pursuit of a quality education easier,” Tomblin was quoted in a press release as stating. In addition to the state’s ARC funds, other funds were part of a matching grant from the federal initiative, Connect2Compete, the public-private partnership — Reconnecting McDowell and McDowell County Schools.

“We started applying for grants last year, and if we would have received the funds at that time, the students would not have been able to use the laptops,” Nelson Spencer, superintendent of McDowell County Schools said. “Now that we have broadband to the schools and have increased the bandwidth, the students will be able to connect their laptops and use these new tools.”

Spencer attended the press conference in Charleston on Thursday when Tomblin made the announcement. “We’re delighted and we thank all of the agencies that helped,” Spencer said. “They are refurbished computers, but all of them have new components. The computers are owned by the school system, but students will be able to take them home with them.”

Spencer said that in addition to getting laptop computers for the middle school students, the school system also received good news concerning the new accountability standards of the common core standards. Spencer said that McDowell County students demonstrated growth in all areas of those standards. “This week has been a great week,” Spencer said.

Mike Calloway, president of the McDowell County Board of Education also added his appreciation. “I think it’s marvelous,” Calloway said. “The ARC has been good to us.”

Tomblin serves as 2013 states co-chair for the ARC. The McDowell County ARC grant is part of $4.3 million awarded to a total of 10 projects statewide.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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