Piedmont BOE authorizes purchase of 750 Apple laptops
by Laura Johnson
Mar 25, 2013 | 6314 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Piedmont Board of Education on Monday agreed to lease 750 new laptop computers for the next school year.

The system began outfitting each student in grades four through 12 with laptops in 2010. The system’s lease agreement with Apple Inc. will replace MacBooks the students have used since the technology program began.

“This decision that was made today was really made in 2010,” said Superintendent Matt Akin. “Once you start a one-to-one you really have to keep the equipment updated.”

Akin said that like home computers, cell phones and other devices, the student’s laptops must be updated periodically to remain current and functional. The MacBook Airs are lighter, faster and – because of their aluminum shell – more sturdy than the white, plastic-shelled MacBooks they will replace, Akin said.

The lease-to-own agreement will cost the system $756,922.36 over the next four years, with annual payments of $189,230. At the end of the fourth year, the system will own the equipment, Akin said.

Akin likened the expense to purchasing textbooks, which the system no longer purchases because now students access educational information online.

The current agreement is about $14,000 more than a lease the system signed to purchase the first laptops for the technology project, Akin said.

The 750 new devices aren’t the only computers the system plans to purchase this year. Officials with the school district plan to buy another 100 MacBook Airs with grant funding.

Akin said the new devices will replace the 800 MacBooks students currently use. The 50 additional laptops included in the agreement are meant to accommodate any growth in the student population, he said.

Many of the computers students use now, about 500, will be counted as surplus and sold, Akin said.

“The reason it’s important for us to do this earlier is that by getting the new equipment in, we can get the old equipment ready to sell,” Akin said.

The system will retain the remaining MacBooks that were purchased in 2010 to issue in case one of the new computers needs to be repaired next year. School officials will also equip students in kindergarten through third grade with some of the older computers, according to the superintendent.

“It really lets us take it to the next level,” Akin said.

While the system’s technology initiative has outfitted all students in grades four through 12 with laptops, it has not put as much technology in the hands of students in kindergarten through third grade. Currently students in the lower-level grades have access to sets of iPods, though they don’t have MacBooks to take home.

Akin said the surplus computers will bring the system closer to its goal of ensuring each child in the system has access to a device, much in the way all children have had access to textbooks for several decades.

School officials will also place 150 of the MacBook laptops on six carts to be offered in sets for teachers in the lower grade levels to use for instruction, Akin said.

Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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