On Jan. 27, Comcast Harrisburg donated 20 used computers to the Harrisburg School District in order to help the district establish Parent Information Resource Centers (PIRC).
The PIRC program was formed between Comcast Harrisburg Vice President Frank Lynch and Harrisburg School District Superintendent Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney through Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” program. The program is for low-income students and their families who cannot afford Internet service.
Comcast gives those who are eligible a low monthly fee of $9.95 a month plus tax, instead of a contract with additional fees. To qualify, the family must not have any overdue Comcast bills or unreturned equipment and at least one child enrolled in the National School Lunch Program.
“The Parent Information Resource Center, or PIRC, is a designated room or place in the school that is designed to be parent-friendly,” Knight-Burney explained, “It is a place within the school that parents can visit and receive information about any academic and extracurricular activities that happen within the school.”
Knight-Burney also said it would function as a training site offering help through the process. “We also want to be able to share job and learning opportunities as well. Each PIRC will have a Family Liaison who will be a parent in the school and is employed part time by the district to facilitate trainings and operate the PIRC,” she continued.
PIRCs have access to the Internet with no charges to the parents for their use and each center will be equipped with learning materials, such as books, among a variety of other resources.
Knight-Burney has also created a theme while in office as superintendent called C.H.A.R.G.E. This theme emphasizes what values and responsibilities are expected of the education process and is meant to bring parents, students and teachers together through an open communication port.
Also, the PIRC and C.H.A.R.G.E. programs will work together to create a successful environment for students and their families. C.H.A.R.G.E. is not only in “pursuit of educational excellence,” according to Dr. Knight-Burney, but it is an acronym for: connections, healthy habits, accountability, responsibility, growth and effective instruction.
“I want to include all stakeholders as active partners in our educational process,” Knight-Burney said. “We need to make sure that we all create a culture that makes education a priority and that we put into place the steps that will ensure student success. For that to happen we all need to understand the goals and agree to share in the responsibility and tasks that will make this happen.”
According to Eric Veronikis’ report from The Patriot-News, 20 Dell computers will be set up and distributed within the PIRCs in 10 schools in the Harrisburg School District. PIRC will make its debut in a month at Harrisburg High School and then continue to open in Camp Curtin, Rowland, Foose and Scott schools.
First-year education major Bethany Otwell sees the importance of the new program. “It’s really cool,” she said. “It gets the parents involved in student education.”
“We plan on having a fully operating PIRC in every school before the end of the school year,” Knight-Burney stated, in regards to her plans for how far the PIRC program will expand.
The Harrisburg School District and Comcast will be in partnership throughout 2012 and the school district will receive any computers that Comcast is willing to donate. While positions for parents to apply for part-time liaisons are no longer available, volunteers may contact the Harrisburg School District at (717) 703-4000 for more information and to get involved.
To learn more about Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” program, visit www.internetessentials.com/how or contact an associate at 1-855-846-8376. Comcast is working with schools, families, civic leaders and others in need for more affordable Internet for its customers and soon-to-be customers.