1:1 Chromebooks Approved

The Lenovo N21 Chromebook will be purchased for a 1:1 program in grades 3 through 6.

By a 4-1 vote the WGSD school board approved the purchase of additional Chromebooks for use by students in grades 3 through 6. Chromebooks are not new to grades 3 through 6, as they were previously used in a shared manner. This purchase creates a true 1:1 student device program in grades 3 through 6, similar to those already in place in Elkhorn Area School District and Delavan-Darien School District.

The WGSD has had a 1:1 student device program for grades 7 and 8 in place for several years. In fact, earlier this year the school board approved replacement of those devices which are approximately 7 years old. Those devices, the Dell Latitude D630, were manufactured in 2008 and purchased by WGSD as “refurbished” in 2012. The estimated cost to have them in working order for grade 6 next year was $20,000 to $30,000.

By waiting to move to a 1:1 program at this time for grades 3 through 6, WGSD is able to purchase the bulk of these devices at an average cost of $169 each. This is 40% less than the price paid by nearby school districts ($279) and, as expected, the devices come with better specifications. The manner in which WGSD is implementing this 1:1 program for grades 3-6 will allow the device to follow the student.

Posted by Matt Kranich on 6/23/2015
WGSD Parent and WGSD School Board Member

As described by Technology Administrator Kannan Heath and Technology Committee Chairperson Tom Hoffman at the June 8th Technology committee meeting, making these purchases based on enrollment, as opposed to grade level, reduces the overall number of devices that need to be purchased and reduces long term costs.

Following next year’s (2015-16) implementation of a 1:1 program and starting with the 2016-17 school year, incoming third grade students will receive a new device that is deemed most appropriate and cost effective. The device will follow the student and be expected to last for four years, when the student completes the 6th grade. This type of rolling purchase in grades 3-6 will prevent the need to replace all devices at the same time in future years and will assure that the devices in use are always current.

Impact on WGSD Budget

The cost to implement the 1:1 program is more than last year’s school board was expecting to pay for technology in preparation for the 2015-16 school year. The previously agreed upon need for replacement devices was in grade 6 at a cost of approximately $45,000 and grades K through 2 at cost of approximately $30,000. As the board looked at options for implementing a 1:1 program in grades 3 through 6 for the 2015-16 school year, it kept this total anticipated expense of $75,000 in mind.

Ultimately, the WGSD board approved spending approximately $110,000, or $35,000 more than previously expected, in order to implement a 1:1 program in grades 3 through 6 for the 2015-16 school year. While there will be approximately 625 students in grades 3 through 6 next year, the WGSD only approved the purchase of approximately 395 devices, as there are approximately 230 devices currently being shared. This decision does mean that grades K through 2 will have to wait one additional year for replacement of their shared devices, but this postponement works nicely for the following reasons:

  1. Mr. Heath, WGSD Technology Director, assured the school board that the K-2 devices could be kept functioning adequately for another year using spare parts that are available from devices no longer in use
  2. The shared devices used this past year in grades 3 through 6 will be rounded up and used next year (2015-16) in a 1:1 manner by 5th and 6th grade students. The brand new devices will be used by grades 3 and 4 in a 1:1 manner.
  3. The following year, 2016-17, the 6th grade devices will not follow the students to 7th grade, but will instead be used to replace the shared devices in grades K through 2. At that time the devices will be two years old.

This plan, approved by the school board last night in a 4-1 vote (Karweik opposed), eliminates the need to spend $30,000 on new devices for grades K through 2 this year, or the following year, and prevents the dilemma of having purchased a brand new device for students in grades 6 and 5 that would only be used for 1 or 2 years respectively. These devices would then have to be redistributed to incoming 3rd graders, who would receive a one or two year-old device that would likely not be able to follow them through the 6th grade. As described above, the district could then also find itself in a situation where it either has a large surplus or shortage of devices with each new incoming grade.

The plan and dollar amount approved by the school board last night also includes over $30,000 in Chromebook storage and charging carts. This is a one time purchase for hardware that will be used for many program cycles.

Posted by Matt Kranich on 6/23/2015
WGSD Parent and WGSD School Board Member

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