More students to receive laptops

Seymour Community School Corp.’s 1:1 technology initiative is expanding to include elementary school students.

District officials say now that all students in Grades 6 through 12 have a school-issued Chromebook, younger students should have access to the laptop-style computers too.

The board of trustees recently approved a request from Brian Rodman, the district’s director of technology, to purchase 380 more Chromebook devices to issue to fifth-graders.

He hopes to get them in the classrooms in the next two weeks, he said.

“They just arrived, and it takes time to register, enroll and place them into carts,” Rodman said.

Fifth-graders will keep and use the same device through their eighth grade year, and then be issued a new one as freshmen to use through their senior year.

After four years, if the devices still work, they will be placed in the hands of fourth- and third-graders, and possibly lower grades.

“We’re going to continue to use them as long as they possibly will last,” he said.

The new models actually are $25 cheaper per unit and more durable, Rodman said, costing the district $250 a piece, which includes the device, warranty, software and a protective case.

The total amount spent was $95,000.

Rodman said the computers were purchased using money from the state Common School Loan fund, which has been used in the past for the same purpose, the corporation’s capital projects fund and a textbook reimbursement program.

Seymour Schools’ 1:1 program started in 2014 and is about a year ahead of the initial three-year plan, which called for all students in sixth through 12th grade to be issued Chromebooks by 2017.

“This would basically finish out our implementation process of 1:1 even though we’re going to have more coming down the road for fourth and third grades,” Rodman said.

He isn’t concerned with younger students losing or breaking the Chromebooks, because they have already been exposed to technology from cellphones to self-checkouts at stores and have been using computers in the classroom for years.

Chromebooks are used by students to complete homework, do research and projects and stay connected to their teachers and other students. They also can replace textbooks in some instances.

The devices will help prepare students for online testing and will save classroom time from having to move to and from computer labs, Rodman said.

In most cases, students are allowed to take the devices home and are responsible for their care, just as they would be for textbooks. The Chromebooks allow students to access the Internet if a Wi-Fi connection or hot spot is available.

The district is making efforts to increase free, public Wi-Fi access in the community.

“Seymour Community Schools has always felt it is important to prepare our students for the future and this 1:1 endeavor allows our staff and students to have additional tools to be able to accomplish any of those desired tasks,” Rodman said.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.