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District leases 700 laptops

Feb. 26, 2013

The Hamilton School Board voted to approve leasing 700 laptop computers at its Feb. 18 meeting, reducing the previous student-to-computer ratio from 5-to-1 to 3-to-1.

The new laptops were acquired to help students get used to learning in an online environment, which the state's new Smarter Balanced Assessments will require.

The four-year lease of the laptops is $399,026, which will come from the district's technology equipment budget. At an additional cost of $112,719, the district will also own 47 mobile carts that house 15 computers each.

Information Technology Manager Ryan McMillan said the computer labs in the district are booked solid during the school day. Having the laptops available on mobile carts that can be wheeled into classrooms will make technology more accessible for students and staff.

Breakdown of laptop distribution by school is: 150 each at Hamilton High School and Templeton Middle School, 135 at Woodside, 120 at Marcy, 75 at Lannon, 60 at Maple and 10 extra machines.

School Board member Michael Hyland said he appreciated the IT department's work securing the leasing agreement, but he was uncomfortable voting in favor of the plan because it represents another unfunded mandate from the state. The state will implement its new Smarter Balanced Assessments in 2014-15 and will require them to be taken online.

He said people at the state are making decisions for local school districts, but they don't have any money invested in it.

"I feel we are doing too much testing and it means teachers are spending less time with students in the classroom," Hyland said.

Board member Deborah Briggs said she agreed that testing is overemphasized, but she saw greater access to technology as beneficial to the students.

"Part of the reason we are doing this is because of testing, but the requirement for kids is to be proficient and able to use technology in all areas," Briggs said.

State requirements may have motivated the school to lease the laptops, Board member Gerald Schmitz said, but the technology is still being used for learning.

"It's really the students who will gain in the long run," Schmitz said.

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