Cassville Schools move on Phase II of tech initiative

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Early lease of Chromebooks saves district about $125K

The Cassville School District has made its move on Phase II of its 1:1 Initiative about two months early, resulting in savings of about $125,000.

Melanie Stringer, middle school principal who is overseeing the initiative, was approved by the board of education to spend $244,525 to enter a 3-year lease for 575 new Chromebooks, which are personal laptop computers that run Chrome OS.

"Sometimes, we do have to tweak our plan for various reasons, but we are thrilled that we are actually ahead of schedule for now," she said. "Phase I is just rolling into classrooms and has allowed 300 devices in students' hands, 150 at the high school and 150 the middle school.

"Phase II wasn't supposed to begin until January 2015; however, we received an opportunity to buy some quality devices at a reduced price."

With the implementation of Phase II, the high school will receive 345 new devices, the middle school will get 325 new devices and the intermediate school will get 180 new devices.

Because of the new devices going to upper-level schools, elementary teachers will also get a technology boost, to the tune of 90 laptops passed down from the intermediate school.

"We also purchased 25 extra devices to have on hand for all buildings when breakage occurs," Stringer said.

Richard Asbill, superintendent of Cassville Schools, said the savings on the lease for devices in Phase II came because vendors know the district is using the 3-phase plan.

"Some vendors become more motivated to provide the next phase of our needs at a lower cost, and we can take advantage of that market structure," he said. "This is two months ahead of when we originally planned to do it, but we're getting about $125,000 in savings, and that's pretty significant."

Stringer said the district is leasing the devices because technology advances so quickly each year, the district does not want to pay in full for devices that will be obsolete in only a few years.

Phase I of the 1:1 Initiative brought 150 Chromebooks to the high school and 150 more to the middle school. The district received those devices last week, and have been distributed throughout the schools and are in use.

Phase III, scheduled to take shape next fall, would implement a full 1:1 program, giving each high school student a Chromebook of their own, which they would be allowed to take home for school-related uses.

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