Swanton Schools provides laptops – Toledo Blade
Jessica Mitchell, left, and Catelyn McClain, both ninth graders, look over their new Chromebooks at the end of an assembly at Swanton High School, where all students are to eventually receive a laptop computer from the district.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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SWANTON — Between classes at Swanton High School, the long hallways fill with students balancing stacks of books in their arms.
Now, they’re adding a new technological tool to their academic arsenal.
The Swanton school district, which straddles Lucas and Fulton counties, plans to provide a laptop computer for every student in grades 5 through 12.
Officials Wednesday distributed the first of roughly 500 devices to be loaned to high schoolers and fifth graders. Next school year, the district will hand out about 400 computers to that year’s fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students.
Current ninth graders gathered Wednesday in the auditorium to learn how to use their new Chromebooks.
They sat in rows, screens glowing, fingers typing, listening to common-sense cautionary advice such as: Use both hands when passing the laptop to someone else.
The district has been building up to this moment for about a year, when it began working toward launching the technology initiative.
“It’s always been in the back of my head as far as what we need to do for kids,” said Superintendent Jeff Schlade. “The advantages to the students are to be able to have resources at their fingertips.”
The project will cost the district about $247,000 this year, including training and equipment, and $150,000 next year, said Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Joyce Kinsman. Money will come from the district’s general fund, which received an additional $300,000 this year in state support because of funding formula changes.
Tonya Koenig, representing the Northwest Ohio Educational Technology Foundation, tells Swanton students about the district’s new program providing laptops. Students will be charged $35 to cover repairs.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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Students’ families will pay $35 to an insurance fund to cover repairs. The district made arrangements, such as working out payment plan options, for those who cannot afford the fee.
A district survey found about 97 percent of students said they had access to a personal computer at home or somewhere else where they could do homework, said Brandon Schroth, Swanton’s director of information technology.
But school officials contend that providing all students with their own device will enhance classroom learning and prepare them for college or a career. Using Google Classroom, teachers and students can keep track of assignments, file papers, and check out links to online sources.
“It’s the most secure method for students to be able to access our content away from here, but we can still can keep an eye on it,” Mr. Schroth said, adding that filters will block students from accessing inappropriate websites.
Students were excited to have the new laptops, which they planned to use to email teachers and complete homework. Jessica Benson, a freshman, has a home computer but said having her own laptop will make it easier to turn in her work. Ninth grader Derek Floyd expects it will be handy to use it to look up routine questions.
“My brothers and I share a laptop so it will be nice to have my own,” said senior Megan Chonko.
She plans to use it to write papers for English class.
“I think we definitely understand that there will be more responsibility to take care of it. Also, our teachers have been preparing us,” she said.
Returning students will keep the computers over the summer, and the district plans to purchase new computers for each year’s fifth and ninth grade classes.