Gov. Ronnie Musgrove’s plan to put a computer in every classroom in Mississippi will begin with the installation of 6,000 computers throughout the state by March. The state Information Technology Services board approved a recommendation Sept. 15 by the governor’s office to buy 6,000 computers and related support services from six vendors for about $6 million.

It is the first step in Musgrove’s plan to have an internet-accessible computer in every classroom by the end of 2002. About 12,500 classrooms in Mississippi reportedly do not have computers.

The state will provide $2 million toward the $5.988 million purchase. The remaining balance will be raised by the Governor’s Task Force for Classroom Technology.

ITS board vice chairman Rodney Pearson, who teaches at Mississippi State, questioned the value of having one computer in a classroom with up to 30 students. “It does not sound feasible” for a teacher to instruct an entire class using one computer, Pearson said.

The State Department of Education’s Nathan Slater, a member of the governor’s task force, said projection monitors and other technologies can allow a large group of students to be taught from one terminal. He said that type of equipment will not be installed with the computers purchased by the state, however.

“We are going to train every teacher not just how to use a computer, but to integrate it into teaching the curriculum,” he said.

David Perkins of Howard Industries Inc., one of the companies from which the state will purchase the computers, said the biggest reason to have a computer in every classroom is to help teachers with research. “You really have a library sitting on your desk,” he said.

The State Department of Education will determine a schedule for installments, though schools without computers likely would be the first to receive them, Slater said.