Kaua’i DOE leaders get computers for lunch

LIHU’E — Lunch was extra special for Kaua’i’s public-school principals Thursday.

Not only did it signal the end of a full morning agenda, the group was visited by Larry Bowman and his representatives from Falko Partners, who brought along gifts worth celebrating.

Joined by Kaua’i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste and Laurie Yoshida, Gov. Linda Lingle’s Kaua’i liaison, Bowman presented state Department of Education Kaua’i Area Complex Superintendant Daniel Hamada with a check for $225,000 for the 2006-07 school year.

Additionally, Bowman brought out checks of $15,000 for each of Kaua’i’s public elementary, middle, and high schools.

The contributions are the first step in what Bowman and the officials at the Kaua’i’s DOE hope is a continuing public-private partnership that some-day may help achieve the ultimate goal of a textbook-free classroom.

Bowman said he hopes that this initial donation provides the means for each school to create a “model computer lab” that will allow them to increase the amount of time students spend in front of computers, and allow teachers to teach them to become more computer-literate.

Bowman indicated that there are states in America today that are text-book-free, and there are others close behind.

“The first step toward this realization is computer literacy,” Bowman said.

In this respect, he said principals should become role models, and IT (information technology) professionals should become teachers and facilitators of computers.

Bowman added that one of the reasons why public schools lose students to private schools is because of this, and with the contributions and advances the schools will make in their technological offerings, Bowman told the principals, “Let’s get these students back into the public schools.”

Hamada said he got a phone call from Fred Rose, principal of Kilauea School, but had no idea that Bowman’s visit to the State Building in Lihu’e for the weekly principals’ meeting would lead to the presentation.

Falko Partners and the Bowman Family Foundation made a donation to Kilauea School to upgrade the school’s entire computer lab with new eMacs after Bowman became aware of the lab conditions.

Several of the Falko Partners employees have children who attend Kilauea School, and Bowman, a part-time Kaua’i resident, is a strong believer that computer literacy and the ability to understand and use technology is a way for students to get ahead in life and accomplish their goals.

This led to the initial contribution where Bowman and Hamada met amidst cartons of computers that had arrived, purchased with funds from the contribution.

To maximize the impact of the $15,000 contribution made to each school, each school assessed the current state of their respective computing facilities, and worked with their DOE complex officers to determine how to best allocate the funds.

The schools are currently finalizing their purchase orders, with the first orders expected to be placed by the end of May.

The goal is to have all of the equipment in place and ready for the first day of class in the 2006-07 school year, which begins in July.

Bowman said that, with the continued support from the community and the commitment from the teachers, principals, and staff in the DOE, Kaua’i’s public schools could become models for technology education across the state.

Falko Partners was established on Kaua’i in 2000, and encompasses several entities, including Valley House, and a nursery and lychee farm that currently employs 11 people.

Falko Partners aims to have a positive impact on the Kaua’i community through outreach and charitable giving via the Bowman Family Foundation in the areas of affordable housing, anti-drug efforts, support for law enforcement, technology education, and preserving and protecting the natural environment.

Falko Partners is owned by Bowman, a professional money manager and philantropist.

Falko Partners is a member of the Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce, Kaua’i Planning & Action Alliance, and the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce.

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