Bethel Park School District purchases Google Chromebooks for discount

Published Aug 11, 2014 at 8:54 am (Updated Aug 11, 2014 at 8:54 am)

Thanks to some smart shopping, the Bethel Park School District is moving ahead faster with its plan to implement one-to-one technology learning.

On Aug. 5, school board members approved the administration’s recommendation that the district purchase computers for all the students at Neil Armstrong Middle School and all of the district’s elementary schools.

The purchase is taking place months before originally planned because Ron Reyer, director of technology services, was able to get the equipment at a very significant discount.

The district was able to purchase 1,500 Chromebook computers at a cost of $179.99 each for a total of $269,985. Also purchased were 1,500 Chromebook cases at the cost of $11 each for a total of $16,500 and 1,500 Google management consoles at a cost of $28 each for a total of $42,000.

The purchase, which was phase two and phase three of the district’s newly-implemented four-year Technology Learning Implementation, was not expected to take place until late in the fall.

According to Reyer, the district saved approximately $30,000 by making the purchase early.

“Your board and your superintendent are very proud of you,” Superintendent Nancy Rose told Reyer.

The district’s plan is to provide one-to-one computing devices for all students in grades three through 12 and computing devices on classroom carts for students in grades kindergarten through second grade. The cost of purchasing the technology and the accompanying accessories, such as cases and carts, was expected to be $1.3 million over four years.

For phase one, the district purchased 750 Chromebooks at a cost of $199.99 each for a total cost of $149,250. In addition, the district purchased cases for all of those computers at the cost of $11 for a total of $8,250 and 750 Chrome management consoles at a cost of $28 each for a total of $8,250.

Those computers are for the district’s seventh and eighth graders, who will be able to take the Chromebooks home with them.

Students will begin picking up their computer within the next week and the district is offering training to both the students and their parents.

Parents will have the option of enrolling in an optional $25 a year Technology Protection Plan, which would cover any repairs or replacements should the device malfunction during the school year. Parents who do not opt into the Protection Plan will be responsible for any costs associated with the repair of the device. Parents will be responsible for repair and replacement costs if the device is lost, stolen or willfully abused.

All the computers and equipment were purchased from Best Buy.

The district’s staff development efforts in 2014-2015 will be directed toward getting the teachers prepared to effectively implement the technology initiative.

During the 2015-2016 school year, ninth graders will receive take-home Chromebooks.

Additionally, Chromebooks and carts will be purchased for students in grades 3-6, which will complete the one-to-one initiative for those grades. Those computers will stay at school.

In 2016-2017 take-home Chromebooks will be purchased for students in grades 10-12

At the elementary schools, iPads and carts, to be shared by the classrooms, will be purchased for the students in grades kindergarten to second grade. That purchase will enable each elementary school to have three iPad carts, one for each grade level, kindergarten through second.

In 2017-2018, the district plans to purchase any remaining computer items and complete a thorough analysis to make adjustments to the program going forward as deemed appropriate.

District officials said that with the wireless devices, there will be a variety of educational applications that will benefit students across subject areas.

Chromebooks were selected because of their cost effectiveness as well as their compatibility with the Google Suite of educational applications. For example, students will be able to electronically turn in assignments via Google docs.

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