“Will we get new computers this year?” is undoubtedly one of the most popular questions asked of the Technology Department. Last spring the School Board changed the technology budget enhancement to a continual investment on a three year cycle. The 2015-2016 school year was the first year on this new schedule, with elementary schools as the recipients. In addition to replacing staff laptops, we provided every 3rd-4th grade classroom with one Chromebook for every three students and a two to one ratio in 5th grade. Building administrators were provided an allocation of funds based on population to fill other technology needs within their schools with a selection of district-approved devices. We are working with high school administrators and stakeholders on where to best position new computers within the schools for the 2016-2017 school year. Middle schools will be replaced in 2017-2018.
Moving to more online tools and resources has allowed us to purchase lower cost, “cloud”, devices. With this we have been able to buy two or three student devices for the cost of a more traditional computer. The total number of devices purchased for elementary schools this year exceeded 3,100. In comparison, the previous elementary replacement was approximately 1,100 devices. In 2013, we purchased about 700 computers for the high schools and we anticipate purchasing almost four times that amount this cycle.
This ongoing funding has granted us many benefits. Laptops have already been ordered for high school staff, and we will start deploying them on-site within the coming weeks. Teachers have been asked to complete applications for classroom sets of Chromebooks and they will know before summer whether their application was accepted. Sustainability allows us to create a model in which teachers will have adequate time to prepare for technology in their school and classroom, and the confidence to know that the technology will grow with the demands of staff and students.
“Will we get new computers this year”? The answer is a resounding “YES!” and the sustainability of funding now allows us to shift our focus from obtaining access to technology to transforming the use of technology and the persistent growth of 21st century teaching and learning.
Want to do more with your technology? Check out the BPS technology training opportunities: https://goo.gl/DSi8Mv