School District to Purchase 1,000 Chromebooks

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GREEN RIVER– The Sweetwater County School District #2 Board of Trustees unanimously approved the district to go out for a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 1,000 Chromebooks for the district’s students.

The initial starting price is approximately $450,000 for the Chromebooks. SWCSD #2 technology supervisor Spencer Bagshaw said there will definitely be discounts offered which will lower the price.

This school year marks the first year every student has had their own Chromebook to work with. The high school students get to take their Chromebooks from class to class and take them home, while the younger students’ Chromebooks stay in the classroom.

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The district currently has about 3,700 Chromebooks in schools and with students, in which the devices are four different brands and five different Chromebook models. Some of the Chromebooks are up to six years old, which are two years past their expected lifespan.

Chromebooks Have About a Four-Year Lifespan

Currently, every student has a working Chromebook. Trustee Corina Tynskey asked why the district needs to purchase more Chromebooks if every student already has a working one.

Bagshaw said the Chromebooks have a life span of about four years, which means on average, a quarter of them have to be replaced each year. Once the Chromebooks reach a certain age, they can no longer be updated.

He added that with young children at the elementary schools handling the Chromebooks, sometimes the lifespan is even less than four years.

There are currently over 30 Chromebooks in need of repair throughout the district, and some of those are older devices, but some of them are new. Bagshaw said, as of Christmas break, the district had 40 brand new Chromebooks still in the boxes.

iPads vs. Chromebooks

Trustee Steve Core asked why the district doesn’t buy iPads instead of Chromebooks since the quality is better and they have a longer lifespan.

Bagshaw said that although they would have a longer lifespan, they would be much more expensive. He said 1,000 iPads would be around the $700,000 to $800,000 range.

Also, iPads do not come with a keyboard, which the high school students sometimes require. A keyboard can be added to an iPad, but at an additional cost.

Should High School Students Help Pay for their Chromebooks?

Trustee Core also asked if the students get to keep the Chromebook at the end of high school, which Bagshaw said they have discussed. After using the Chromebook for four years, the students would get to keep the devices after they graduate.

Bagshaw said he hopes this would act as incentive for the students to take care of the devices over the course of their high school careers.

Core said he did the same thing for his own kids, but the difference was that he bought the laptop, not the taxpayers.

Core suggested Bagshaw look in to having the high school students pay in on the Chromebooks, even if just for part of the cost.

Computer Lab Updates

The Sweetwater County School District #2 Board of Trustees also approved the district to go out for an RFP for lab computers.

The district’s computer labs have not been updated in a while because the purpose of the Chromebooks was to rid the district of some of the necessities of having labs.

However, many programs that are needed for certain curriculum are not conducive to the Chromebooks, so the computer labs are needed.

The cost for the lab computers is not to exceed $50,000.