By C.D. DESALVO
On Monday at the Rockwell Administration Center, the Hays USD 489 Board of Education was presented with an update from the administration’s technology committee on which machines it is reviewing to replace laptops that K-8 district teachers currently have.
“Regardless of brand, I think it would be in our advantage to enter back into a self-maintainer program with whichever vendor that may be,” said Scott Summers, director of technology. “We have done self-maintainer in the past as far as when we had Dells, we had Dell-certified technicians and, when we switched to HP, they were certified for HP and that allowed us to do our own repairs in-house instead of sending the machines back to the vendor. So that is really a big thing I’m looking at.”
The existing laptops will be seven years old this fall and some teachers have even gone to using their own personal devices, he said.
“Somewhere around 30 percent of the roughly 1,500 repair tickets we have had this year have been some sort of issue with those laptops,” said Summers.
The three models that the technology committee has narrowed it down to are Dell, HP and Lenovo. Superintendent John Thissen said that more than just performance is going into consideration for the devices.
“The machines in comparison ended up being close to the same when it comes to cost. The issue is sometimes the reliability of the device and what kind of service can we get for them? What does Fort Hays State University use? What does Hays Medical Center use? Those are things being investigated too in trying to make that determination,” he said.
Board President Lance Bickle noted the K-8 staff just recently received iPads and that some school districts use only iPads in the classroom.
“The issue I have is with everything else going on, I have a hard time spending money on a second device for staff members. What is it that we can’t do on the iPads that they have to have a laptop for? I ask that because I know there are districts out there that only have iPads,” he said.
Summers said teachers thought it was easier for them to create content on laptops.
“I know last year when we talked about that it came down to content creation. A lot of them felt that it was easier to do content creation on laptops as opposed to the iPads,” he said.
Thissen said he thinks a majority of the teachers would rather use laptops instead of iPads.
“At least a few teachers I talked to identified the laptop as an instructional tool and the iPad as a learning tool, and I think if they had to pick between the two, they would end up picking the laptop as their instructional tool,” he said.
Thissen also explained that in districts that were iPad only, the teachers did not have their own iPad or device provided by the district and that the teachers use the same iPads in the classroom that the students use.
Board member Luke Oborny also brought up that the iPads are only 16 gigabytes of storage space, which has been an issue for the teachers.
The technology committee will meet on April 18 to review the three vendors and plans to have a presentation for the board by the end of the month.
The board also voted to approve the purchase of a K-5th grade math curriculum by a vote of 7-0. The Go Math series was purchased in 2011 and teachers recommended its renewal for the 2015 series. The approval is for a 5-year renewal totaling $96,315.60. Since it is a renewal with Go Math, the district will not have to pay the full purchase price of approximately $200,000.
Full work session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phW3CMkmGk8&t=2406s