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Students in Coventry to get Chromebooks

By MICHELLE FIRESTONE

Chronicle Staff Writer

COVENTRY — In an effort to keep up with technological advances, the board of education has approved the purchase of Chromebook computers for students.

The Chromebooks were approved by the board of education by a 6-0 vote during a recent meeting.

Currently, iPads are used by eighth- through 12th-grade students.

The plan involves purchasing Chromebooks for Coventry High School and Capt. Nathan Hale Middle School students.

There are plans to purchase Chromebooks for all CHS students in the 2018-19 school year and for CNH and incoming ninth-graders in the 2019-20 school year.

According to the superintendent’s office, $103,500 is budgeted for Chromebooks as part of the budget passed by the school board Thursday.

Coventry Superintendent of Schools David Petrone said the district is expected to save approximately $9,000 by purchasing Chromebooks, rather than iPads.

He said several school districts are using Chromebooks now. “It’s not an easy decision to make,” Petrone said.

Petrone said it is a “big change-over” to convert from iPads to Chromebooks, but school officials want to make sure “we have the right tools for our children.”

There are staff members who can help fellow staff or students use the devices.

“We do as much as we can in-house,” said Petrone.

He said, with the exception of one, all of the digital textbooks the district has can be used on the Chromebook.

“As you imagine, the publishers are savvy enough that we don’t have any challenges with licensing,” Petrone said.

While a new iPad would cost $329 in initial costs, a Chromebook would cost $225, according to information provided by school officials. Total costs were not yet available.

Petrone noted, with some technology, the price will go down over time, but with iPads, the price “actually seems to go up.”

Information provided by the district indicates families currently pay a $25 usage fee at the beginning of the year for the iPad and, if the iPad requires repairs, families pay $25.

School officials said the projected breakage costs in the district for the current year are estimated at $10,300.

Officials have recommended the usage fee be increased to either $30 or $35.

Petrone said the board of education would vote on an insurance plan for 2018-19 at an upcoming meeting.

The Chromebooks have been described by school officials as being “rugged.”

Coventry Public Schools Director of Educational Technology Cathie Drury said the Chromebooks can sustain a 4-foot drop.

“A 4-foot drop is impressive,” Coventry Board of Education Chairperson Jennifer Beausoleil said.

One concern addressed was students’ use of Chromebooks when they are home. “We do sometimes hear about misuse of devices,” said Beausoleil.

Drury said Chromebooks are configured to use the school district’s domain.

However, Google Apps can also be accessed offline.

Petrone said staff tries hard to make sure “students are using devices appropriately,” but sometimes, students find their way around the barriers.

“Kids will be kids sometimes and that’s all part of the growing process,” he said.

Petrone said efforts are made to educate parents about technology and there is an upcoming event about internet safety.

According to information provided by the district, when iPads were chosen in 2013, the district was not using the Google Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education), which, at the time, lacked the capability it has today.

However, over the past three years, the school district has increased its utilization of the Google Suite for Education and recent improvements have been made to the Chromebook.

According to school officials, Google is now providing more professional development pertaining to education and use of chrome devices than it had been.

Purchasing Chromebooks allows the district to take full advantage of the Google Suite tools, according to officials.

 

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