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Social Security to give 6,000 computers to city schools


The Social Security Administration plans to announce in Washington today that it will give Baltimore's public schools 6,000 recycled computers, ensuring that roughly 135 schools will soon have one computer for every five students, officials said yesterday.

The gift goes a long way toward meeting the school system's goal of a 5-to-1 student-to-computer ratio at each of the city's 182 schools, officials said.

Because the computers will come mostly without monitors, software or operating systems, it will take some work - and money - to get them in classroom shape, said Michael Pitroff, the district's director of instructional technology, library and media services. "Even if I have to invest over $1 million to do what I need to do to get them up and going ... it's still worth it," Pitroff said.

The Baltimore-bound computers - all between 2 and 4 years old - are "by far the biggest chunk" of 30,000 surplus computers the agency is giving away nationwide, said William A. Halter, deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

The computers earmarked for city schools are from the agency's headquarters in Woodlawn, where a new computer system is being installed to replace outdated equipment. The first wave of 200 computers should be in schools by next month. Other agency branches will donate computers to schools in the cities where they are located.

Because of erroneous information provided by the Baltimore school system, The Sun incorrectly reported yesterday the number of schools expected to receive computers donated by the Social Security Administration. The correct number is 67.The Sun regrets the error.
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