IM schools to look at more Chromebooks for students

IRON MOUNTAIN — Iron Mountain Schools officials are considering whether the district can stock a Chromebook laptop computer for each student in fifth through 12th grades.

Derrek White, the district’s technology director, told the school board Monday the district now has 315 Chromebooks, divided into nine carts of 22 to 36 that are made available for classes.

With 110 of the devices set to reach the “end of life” in the next two years, plans need to be made now for replacing them at an estimated cost of $19,250, White said.

The district, however, has $33,000 set aside for technology upgrades. By using a mix of current and new devices, enough Chromebooks could be assembled that each student from fifth grade through high school would have one.

Students in seventh through 12th grades would be able to take the Chromebooks home, while fifth and sixth grades would have the devices assigned in carts.

The laptops would be recycled in fifth and ninth grades.

Teachers would be able to use more technology in the classroom if each student has a Chromebook, White said, adding that some teachers have had trouble getting Chromebook access because of demand.

The total cost of replacement in year one would be $44,079. Maintenance costs after would $22,000 per year. They would cover the year one cost with $22,000 from the tech budget allocation and $22,079 from Fund 41. White said they also may be able to generate funds by selling old devices.

Board member Lisa Basanese was concerned about having enough money in the budget. She wondered how much the district would save if they focused on one-to-one Chromebooks starting at seventh grade, or even ninth grade.

With the number of devices that need to be replaced soon, it was a good time to do this, White said.

Superintendent Raphael Rittenhouse said it would be easier to assess student progress if each had an individual Chromebook.

Board members Lisa Carollo said she doesn’t want the district to only rely on technology and get away from writing with pencil and paper.

The board did not make a decision for now and will continue to study the matter.

In other business, the board;

— Agreed to keep Back in Motion in Iron Mountain as its health and therapy services provider. Bellin Health had approached the board in April about taking over these services.

— Approved the first day of the 2018-19 school year as Aug. 27 for teachers and Aug. 28 for students.