New laptops being considered for high school – Hastings Tribune




Hastings school officials are hoping to switch technology for its one-to-one laptop program next school year.

School administrators told the Hastings Public Board of Education during its work session Thursday that they plan to bring a proposal to replace the current suite of MacBook Air laptop computers with Chromebook laptops.

Chad Dumas, the district’s director of curriculum, said school officials don’t have a way to show a direct impact on learning by having laptops available for students, but national data indicates it’s beneficial.

Surveys of local students show the laptops are being used by students more than during the first year of the program.

Rather than just checking email or writing assignments, students report more time being spent using the laptops on other items such as research and long-term projects. Project collaboration is also possible through the use of Google applications.

Trent Kelly, director of technology and operations, said the school has already adopted Google apps so swapping to the Chromebooks could enhance that usability for students. In talking with teachers, he said most of the functionality instructors want and use is available on the Chromebook.

Age is one factor in the plan to replace the laptops.

Kelly said the current laptops are holding up well for being five years old, but more and more will continue to need replacement. Since the initial purchase of 1,000 laptops in 2012, the district has had to replace about 40 each year.

The plan would also put about half of the current laptops in the hands of younger students.

Another benefit of purchasing new laptops would be to the kindergarten through eighth-grade classes. Jeff Schneider, director of business and finance, said the elementary and middle schools are struggling with a lack of devices.

“We think we can salvage a bunch of the equipment at the high school and put them into K-8,” he said. “We think this makes the most sense.”

Kelly estimated that about half of the MacBook Air laptops would be suitable for continued use and taking them to the elementary and middle schools would help those schools.

With technology now required for certain testing, he said it is important for the elementary and middle schools to have sufficient access. Currently, he said it can be difficult to make sure each classroom has enough laptops to take tests.

Schneider reminded the board that the cost of the original 1,000 MacBook Air laptops was about $950,000 and the Chromebooks would be much less expensive option at around $350,000.

“We still have a lot of good quality machines, but not enough to keep it going,” he said.

Alternatively, Schneider said the board could choose to continue with the current laptops, only purchasing a minimal amount of MacBook Air laptops to keep the program going for another year, but it would leave the schools in a similar situation next year.

A third option would be to discontinue the one-to-one program altogether.

Board member Brent Gollner doesn’t think that would be a good option.

“I think we are at a point we have to continue with this,” he said.

Superintendent Craig Kautz said if they would abandon the program now, they would be one of the only schools in the state not providing that technology to students.

Board member John Bonham said increasing the inventory of computers owned by the district makes him nervous.

“It’s more to replace later,” he said. “We need to make sure we allocate funds for it.”

Schneider said funds for the laptops could be taken from other pockets of money, and this would be a single purchase, unlike the payments previously made.

Funds that would have gone toward the purchase of textbooks has already been reallocated to the laptops. Another portion could come from the budget to purchase a new bus, which had been done every two years. Schneider said they wouldn’t want to postpone the purchase of a new bus too long but waiting a year could work.



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