Small Districts Need Computer Money
That's because small districts in Missouri don't have the money for school technology, such as computers.
The state paid for school technology for years. But, lawmakers cut off funds for many programs after classrooms filled up with computers. Now, some districts worry how to upgrade their equipment.
Jacob Laughlin and his seventh grade classmates in New Franklin took a trip around the world this year.
"We had to pick 10 cities and we had to get information off the Internet and tell like a fake journal what we did in that city and tell what the climate and temperature was," he said.
Other new technology taught New Franklin preschoolers how to count.
When a monkey was projected onto a smart board, preschoolers just tapped their computer screens to interact with their favorite game, and to learn in the process.
"Well, for preschool, which is what I teach, traditional lessons are pretty much just playing," explained teacher Kim Weston, "and I think this introduces them to the technology."
Superintendent Jeanie Gordon added, "There used to be technology aquisition grants that every school was entitled to, and we haven't had those in probably three or four years now."
Missouri's new formula for public school funding also put New Franklin in a bind. Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said federal money is available if state funding falls short. But, that funding came to less than $4 per student this year at New Franklin. That was enough, Gordon said, to buy just one laptop computer.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said New Franklin's enrollment of 441 students was too high to receive small-school status that would have brought it more money.