Some low-income eighth-graders throughout Kentucky soon will get used personal computers through a program that teams the Kentucky state government with Microsoft and Lexmark.

The state soon will begin delivering 500 of its refurbished computers to students to use at home as part of a program called “No Child Left Offline.” It’s part of a state effort to promote computer and broadband internet use, said Mike Inman, Kentucky’s commissioner of technology.

The program will work with its first batch of 500 PCs through next year. Eventually, the goal is “to do 2,000 computers a year,” said Brian Mefford, president and chief executive of ConnectKentucky, a nonprofit organization that works to promote technology-based economic development. ConnectKentucky is coordinating the state program.

Kentucky ranks 45th out of 50 states in household computer use, and about a third of low-income eighth-grade students in Kentucky do not have computers at home, Mefford said.

The donated PCs can’t meet the specifications demanded by state government, Inman said, but they’re still relatively fast machines for home use.

Computers usually are hauled to a landfill or “are packed onto pallets and sold for parts for pennies on the dollar,” Mefford said. “We’re reusing them for a great purpose.”

Microsoft is providing 2,000 copies of its Windows XP operating system and Office Suite 2003 software, together valued at $1.5 million.

Lexington, Ky.-based Lexmark is donating 800 color printers, each with two replacement ink cartridges and connecting cables. The printers and supplies are worth $110 each, a total value of $88,000.

More state computers will be channeled through the program as they become available, Inman said. The state replaces its computers every four or five years.

Links:

ConnectKentucky
http://www.connectkentucky.org

Microsoft Corp.
http://www.microsoft.com

Lexmark International Inc.
http://www.lexmark.com