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Schools seeking laptop upgrade

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Online standardized testing for students is pushing Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. to invest in technology upgrades.

On Monday, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Board will consider issuing $2 million in bonds to purchase laptops districtwide and to upgrade instructional devices at five schools.

Although the district has been testing a “Bring Your Own Device” policy that allows students to bring laptops and tablets from home to use for instructional purposes, Director of Technology Mike Jamerson said those devices cannot be used for tests such as ISTEP or Acuity, which is an assessment given three times a year to guide teachers in instruction.

“While BYOD can address many of the current instructional needs, it cannot adequately address the proliferation and continued demand for online assessments,” he said.

So he prepared a report for the board that outlines technology investments that will work for online assessments but will also aid in instruction.

The least expensive computer the district can purchase for use with all current online assessments — three in elementary schools and eight at the secondary level — is about $730 per device. In addition to being compatible with all current assessments, the devices also need to have dependable Internet access and be portable and accessible.

Jamerson recommended the district purchase 840 laptops for the elementary schools for $613,200, and 1,216 devices at the secondary level for a cost of $887,680. That would provide computers for about 30 percent of elementary students and 25 percent of secondary students at one time.

Because the district stresses instruction more than assessments, Jamerson also suggested installing interactive white boards at Richards, Rockcreek, Schmitt, Smith and Taylorsville elementaries for $411,000. A previous bond already provided devices for the other five elementary schools.

Superintendent John Quick said the bonds will not increase the tax rate over last year, and they will be short-term.

Because computers do not last as long as cars or houses, Quick said the district expects to pay back the bonds within five years.

“When a computer only lasts five years, you don’t want to borrow on it for 20 years,” he said.

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