Cooper and Feelhaver Elementary students began the 2012-13 school year with brand new computers awaiting them.
The new desktop and laptop computers were purchased by the Fort Dodge Community School Foundation, using funds left to the district by a beneficiary.
"The late Maxine Hillesland has left money to the district and we use those funds every year for some project for the district," said Angie Tracy, foundation vice president. "There was a need this year to update the computer labs in the elementary schools, so we chose to use that money towards that update at the end of last year."
The two elementary schools were chosen this year, because both needed the new technology, Tracy said. The project continues last year's upgrade effort.
"(Cooper) got a whole new computer lab, where the other elementary schools their computers were updated," she said.
Tracy said this was a good project for the foundation.
"They are trying to get the kids to have daily usage on the computers and in order to do that they needed these computers updated, so they could work with the newer programs that are available to kids today," she said.
According to Tracy, the foundation is grateful for the gift.
"We use it for different projects every year," she said. "(Hillesland) wanted to make sure that whatever we chose to use the funds for that it touched as many students as possible, that it didn't go to just one demographic of students or just one school."
She added, "We felt this (project) would do that exactly."
Jeremy Pearson, director of technology, installed the computers 44 Dell desktops and seven laptops at the end of May. The laptops took advantage of Cooper Elementary library's lack of wall space and wireless Internet access.
"Because of some issues at Cooper with space and wiring we had to get some laptops," he said. "The majority of them were Dell desktops."
The gift left to the district through the foundation was $32,000, Pearson said, which was exactly how much was needed.
The installation was not difficult.
"We already had a majority of everything in the buildings already," he said. "It was ripped and replaced, if you will."
According to Pearson, the new computers were definitely needed.
"Computers at Cooper that we replaced were probably about nine years old," he said. "Laptops at Feelhaver that were replaced were about 10 years old. They were well past their prime to be replaced."
Bruce Hartley, Cooper Elementary principal, said he was thrilled to have the upgraded computer lab.
"It's wonderful," he said. "Any time you can have 28 computers sitting here and all the kids in a class can come in and work on a computer, and learn not only the right way to keyboard, but also the right way to search the Internet, use different learning games and educational tools, we know we're in great shape."
Hartley said he was grateful to the private foundation of Maxine Hillesland and the school foundation.
"We may not be a one-to-one computer school, but we've got excellent resources. And not only do we have this computer lab, but we have two mobile labs," he said. "Teachers can check those out and have those computers right in the classroom if they like."
The Fort Dodge Community School District now has a total of 1,600 computers in its schools.