2017-05-24 / School News

Schools consider costs of laptops for high school students

by Kate Evans

Morgan County Schools Technology Director Tom Shade gave school board members preliminary information on May 8 about the costs and considerations involved in providing a computer device for every high school student.

Shade recommended a fouryear rollout of Chromebooks at both Berkeley Springs High School and Paw Paw High School starting with the freshman class.

Cost of the devices would be $63,500 for each year of the four years. Another technology staff person would be needed at a salary of $30,000 a year beginning in year two. There would also be at least $5,000 in staff development costs and an estimated $15,000 in infrastructure and licensing costs. The year one start-up cost would be $83,800. The total cost for years two through four was estimated by Shade at $113,800 annually.

Cost savings

Shade said there could be cost savings from not having to upgrade school computer labs.

Student use

The laptops could be used for testing, class work, research, note-taking, reading, project-based learning and more. Students would keep the device at school or take it home with them, he said.

School districts typically have policies that require students to bring their device every day and have it charged. Shade said one school he visited had only two students out of 16 classrooms that didn’t have their devices with them or have their devices fully charged. The policy was also “you damage it, you replace it.”

Successful strategies

County schools would need a clear vision statement and goals, in-depth planning and a way to measure the success of handing a device to every student, he said.

There also would also have to be input from teachers, principals and parents and professional development and support, infrastructure and technology support and student and staff policies in place as well as consideration of the costs and sustainability of the initiative.

Shade’s research showed that schools that implemented staff development and their overall vision first and had all these elements in place before the transition were successful.

Shade visited Greenbrier East High School in Greenbrier County and James Monroe High School and Peterstown Middle School in Monroe County who had gone to having a device for every student.

Both counties are similar in size to Morgan County. Most counties were doing a fouryear roll-out, which could be done by department, schools or grades, School Superintendent David Banks said. Monroe County Schools did their entire county in stages throughout the course of one school year, Shade noted.

Shade told school board members that having a computer device for every student was a game changer with many benefits and few negatives. Research and feedback showed that test scores improved, students were more motivated and they worked together better.

Assignments could be also stored online so students could access them on snow days.

School board members asked Shade to bring back more information on how such an initiative could be successfully done.

Architect fee

In other business, the school board approved the fee proposal for Williamson Shriver Architects architectural and engineering services for the Berkeley Springs High School Building C and Building D renovations NEEDS Project.

The firm gave a discounted fee rate of 5.50%, which was decreased from the usual School Building Authority approved rate of 7.25% of the cost of the actual lowest bid on the construction project, because they’d already done a significant amount of the work for Building C renovations in 2012. State and local taxes on their professional services would be reimbursable.

Textbook adoption

The board voted to approve Pearson’s sixth to eighth grade Spanish and Pearson’s ninth to 12th grade Spanish for the World Languages textbooks adoption. The county textbook committee reviews all state Department of Education approved textbook samples and attends a vendor sample fair at James Rumsey Technical Institute before making their recommendations.

Out of state travel

The school board approved a Berkeley Springs High School senior class field trip to King’s Dominion on May 19 with teachers Rustine Bingamen, Les Morris and Holly McCumbee as chaperones. The senior class is funding the trip.

Other

Superintendent David Banks recognized Paw Paw High School Athletic Director Jeff Palmer for receiving the West Virginia Athletic Director of the Year award.

Board member Pete Gordon and Banks recognized Glen Stotler for his fundraising efforts and contributions to the Berkeley Springs High School prom at Cacapon State Park.

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