Thanks to $500,000 appropriated by the 1998 Legislature, Utah businesses have the opportunity to donate computers less than two years old to schools and receive a tax deduction.

Val A. Finlayson, executive director of the Utah Partnership for Educational and Economic Development Inc., is helping get the word out about the program, called Computers for Schools, founded by the Detwiler Foundation in California.According to the 21st Century Classrooms Act, businesses donating computers less than two years old can claim a "charitable tax deduction equal to the undepreciated basis plus one half of the difference between the undepreciated basis and the fair market value of each computer."

Companies donating computers will be free from all liability for repairs and upgrading.

Utah Correctional Industries will start a program to train inmates at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison to upgrade and repair the donated computers. The $500,000 from the Legislature will cover parts and supplies.

UCI also will be responsible for the pickup and delivery of the computers and staffing the refurbishing facility.

Once the computers are refurbished, they will be sold to schools at $100 each, the money being used to cover the cost of pickup, delivery and refurbishing.

Finlayson said he is sending information to trade associations, chambers of commerce and any other organization to develop interest in the program. The partnership has a goal to place computers in every classroom in Utah, and this donation idea is another step toward that goal.