PLYMOUTH — The distribution of 580 MacBook computers at Lincoln Junior High in Plymouth last week was undoubtedly a joyous occasion for Principal Dan Funston. Funston had spent countless hours writing a grant application that netted a payoff of $50,000 to be used towards the lease of the computers that were put directly into the hands of every student in the school.
The grant was entitled “Classroom Innovations in Math;” however, the laptops are also being used for social studies.
Teachers are able to access the student’s individual work through a computer program, thus eliminating the need to print hard copies.
The school already had 300 desktop computers that continue to be well used, but Funston feels the laptops will help engage students better and keep them “tuned in” when they enter the classrooms.
At this point, the computers will stay at the school, but administrators predict that there will be a time in the near future when students will be allowed to take the laptops home.
Funston said the feedback he received after sending out a notice to parents suggesting that they take out an insurance policy to cover the laptops led the corporation to seek a way to have insurance provided.
“Some parents indicated that they didn’t want to be held liable and we understood their reluctance,”Funston said. “We had to find a way for every student to have a laptop. The only way the program will work is to have 100 percent of our students using a laptop.”
Superintendent Dan Tyree said the school was able to negotiate with Apple to include student insurance coverage.
Funston said the corporation has a goal of giving students the tools necessary for engagement, creativity, and productivity and the laptops promote the goals.
There was some confusion on the rental fee to parents. Funston said in previous years similar fees were charged for textbooks. The math classes are now all online and there isn’t a hardback textbook. According to Funston, a $50 rental fee per student will be put towards the lease payment.
At the end of the four-year lease, Apple has agreed to buy back the computers.
Funston said his staff has made sacrifices by adhering to a freeze in the equipment budget to make the technology initiative available.
Tyree calls the 1:1 initiative the “great equalizer.”
“All kids are able to access the same amount of information no matter if they are in an urban or rural setting -they have the same advantage,” he said.
Funston said staff members are receiving specific training on the various programs, adding that many of the staff members grew up with computers and used virtual learning.
“They have become technology leaders within the staff,” Funston said.