Pflugerville ISD board approves $4M in laptop purchases – Austin American-Statesman
The Pflugerville school district board of trustees on Monday approved a one-time expenditure of $3.97 million to purchase 6,900 Dell laptops.
The expenditure — which includes equipment, carts and three-year warranties on the laptops — is possible through a bond package approved by voters in 2014. The laptops will reach five to six campuses by the beginning of the school year, with the remaining laptops distributed to campuses by Oct. 10.
Victor Valdez, district executive director of technology, said the proposal approved by trustees is a result of a collaborative effort between school staff, parents and students. He said a group of students had the opportunity to test different laptops and make a recommendation.
District officials recommended a contract with Dell for laptop hardware and professional development, and Austin Ribbon Computing for carts and deployment services.
Valdez said the district wanted the package to include training, classroom management techniques and instructional specialists to help support the district’s Instructional Technology and Curriculum departments during back-to-school orientation and professional development days.
“One of the things about the package that was so appealing was the value-added services,” Valdez said. “For every so much of a dollar we spend on a laptop, they’re giving us dollar values to turn into whatever services we need, whether it be computers, additional hardware or even more professional development services.”
District staff told trustees purchasing the laptops meets the “Pflugerville Five” goals, which include preparing each student to reach his or her potential. A key factor is for teachers to become familiar with technology and other available resources, and apply them seamlessly into classroom curriculum.
Technology, district staff said, should enhance opportunities for student dialogue and develop critical writing skills.
Valdez said a recurring concern from trustees is monitoring usage, or “getting the best bang for our buck.” The school district is among others that uses BrightBytes to monitor usage.
Trustee Mary Kimmins said she wants monitoring usage to go beyond statistics.
“I’d like discussion of how it’s being used,” she said. “I’d really like to talk about the integration of it with curriculum. I really feel that technology needs to be a good part of curriculum.”
She pointed out the project requires a significant investment. “We want it used correctly and for the benefit of the students,” Kimmins said.
The district installed a wireless system about a year ago, which has access points in every classroom and can support 30-35 devices per class.
Elementary campuses will receive one cart with 24 laptops per grade level from second through fourth grades. Fifth grade levels and elementary libraries will each receive one cart with 25 laptops.
The school district will provide six more carts with 25 laptops each for schools with more students. Ruth Barron, Riojas, Highland Park, Rowe Lane, Caldwell and Murchison campuses will receive an additional library cart to be used as needed by additional students.
Middle schools will each receive one cart with 30 laptops per grade level for each core subject area. The Pflugerville Academic Center of Excellence will get 15 laptops, while Provan Opportunity Center will receive 30 laptops.
Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Asus laptops also offered bids, which ranged from $230,622 just for carts to $4.7 million for Lenovo laptops.