Cassville schools enter Phase III of tech initiative

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

District receives 650 new Chromebooks, bringing total 
to 1,815

Capping off a project it started in 2014, the Cassville school district entered Phase III of its 1:1 Initiative last week, when 650 Google Chromebooks were delivered to the district.

The new devices round out the program to allow students in middle, intermediate and high school to each have a Chromebook for use in class and at home.

Phase I was the initial purchase of the Chromebooks, 150 each for the high school and middle school, plus an extra 15 as backups, at cost $155,000, plus $15,000 for charging carts. The devices leased are Lenovo TS TP 11E Yoga models, which are touch screen and can maneuver into a tablet style from a laptop style. The district paid $465 per device, which includes a three-year warranty, a management system for education and setup costs. Retail price for a Yoga model is about $595, not including a warranty.

Phase II included 345 new devices for the high school, 325 for the middle school and 180 for the intermediate school. The district spent $244,525, but saved about $125,000 by entering the three-year lease two months early. These devices are Lenovo ThinkPad X31 Chromebooks, and the district paid $424 per device, including the warranty, management system and setup costs. Retail price for an X31 model is about $340, not including a warranty.

Phase III, which brought 650 more Chromebooks at a cost of $288,288, completes the 1:1 proposal at the high school, intermediate school and middle school. These Lenovo ThinkPad 11E models cost $443 each, including the warranty, management system and setup costs. Retail price for an 11E model is about $340, not including a warranty.

In total, the district spent $687,813 on the 1,815 devices, and the new devices will allow the district to take some from the middle and intermediate schools and give them to students in the elementary school.

"We don't need a lab anymore because the classroom becomes a lab," Asbill said. "The devices have a three-year life."

Mindi Artherton, communications liaison for Cassville Schools, said all fifth-grade teachers at the intermediate school had devices, and Phase III will now put devices in the hands of all teachers at that school. The new devices will also round out sixth-grade needs, as the seventh and eighth grade core classrooms already had devices in place.

"While the district already has 300 Chromebooks in the High School, the majority of this shipment will be used by our high school students, ensuring that every student will have access to this technology component," she said. "Students enrolled in the computer practicum course at the high school will unpack and set-up the devices so they can be used in the classroom. Throughout the school year, these same students will assist the Technology Department staff with technology issues within the district."

Asbill said the district is still exploring how to set up the take-home contracts, where only high school students would be allowed to take the devices home, instead of leaving them at school.

"the plan at the high school is to work out the logistics, and there are a couple things that will have to occur," he said. "We have to establish our insurance protocols and modify the accepted use policy. We also have to nail down our insurance plan, which we refer to as self-insurance, so the parents will be responsible for a one-time use fee."

Although it has not been officially determined, Asbill said before a student may take a Chromebook home, that student, or the student's parents, will have to pay an insurance fee, somewhere between $35 and $50.

This fee will cover the first claim if a student's device is damaged or lost. For a second claim, a fee of about $100 will be assessed, and for a third claim, a fee of $15- to $200 will be assessed, and take-home privileges will be revoked.

"We've tried to model our plan after other school districts that have this," Asbill said. "Those fees also do not cover vandalism, which would fall under a different plan."

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