Board hears details of plan to equip every student with a Chromebook computer

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, May 11, 2018 — The Nelson County Board of Education was asked to consider approving a plan that will put computing devices in the hands of every district student over a four-year period.

The 1-to-1 device program would place Chromebook laptops in the hands of every third-grader, sixth-grader and ninth-grader in the district.

Chromebooks have been in use in the schools for several years, but there have never been enough of them to equip each student with one. The proposal would cost the district about $300,000 each year. The program would buy new Chromebooks each year beyond the fourth year.

Second through eight-graders would receive 11-inch Chromebooks; ninth-graders would receive 14-inch Chromebooks. Students would carry them three to four years, depending on when they receive them.

The district will have the ability to disable the Chromebooks remotely should it be necessary if one is lost or stolen.

The board of education members questioned the cost of the program, and where the money was coming from.

Tim Hockensmith, the district’s chief operating officer, explained that while it means an investment of $300,000 per year, the district will end up spending less over time on other computers, including computer labs.

“Over time, every kid will have their own computer,” he said. “This is just the next generation of technology in our school.”

District Chief Operating Officer Tim Hockensmith explained to the board of education how the district will fund a 1-to-1 technology program that will put Chromebook laptops into the hands of all students over a four-year period.

Hockensmith said the plan will spend a consistent amount as a line item in the district’s budget.

“What you’re doing is setting aside an amount you’re spending every year,” he said. “We don’t have to go find this money, we’ve been working some time to build this in.”

Board member Diane Berry said she had questions about the expenditures in the wake of spending cuts the district made last year.

“I want us to be high-tech too, but I’m just thinking budget-wise what we didn’t do last year. We needed new buses and we didn’t get those last year,” she said. “I’m just looking at what we didn’t get done.”

The district has some buses that are 17 years old, Berry said.

Hockensmith assured Berry that the district wouldn’t skip purchases buses again, and that the district can adequately fund the 1-to-1 program.

Chromebooks have a life of four to five years. Old ones will be saved and used as loaners. The district plans to have a student-led help desk and device repair and maintenance.

The 1-to-1 plan will be included in the draft budget the board of education will be asked to approve at its meeting Tuesday at the district’s Central Office.


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