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Approval of Chromebooks purchase likely at board's Dec. 17 meeting

Treasurer Robert Kuehnle points to the screen during his slide presentation and discussion of the district’s five-year financial forecast Tuesday.

      The Mansfield City Schools Board of Education approved the district’s five-year financial forecast Tuesday, setting the stage for the purchase of enough additional Chromebooks to provide one for every student in prekindergarten through high school.

      A vote to approve the purchase – at the recommendation of Superintendent Stan Jefferson -- is likely at the board’s next regular meeting on Dec. 17.

      Chromebooks are laptop-type computers capable of containing lesson assignments, supplemental material and videos – even entire textbooks. Two types are used in the district: “touch” Chromebooks for preschool and first grade, “non-touch” keyboard units for all other grades

      At the board’s special meeting on Dec. 5, Fayette Adams, City Mills technology director, said there are 1,700 Chromebooks currently in use in the district, most on 30-unit carts shared among classrooms as needed. In order for every student to have one, Adams said an additional 565 touch Chromebooks will be needed, as well as 1,075 more of the non-touch version.

      Stephen Rizzo, the district’s chief academic officer, told the board on Nov. 5 that it is important to act as soon as possible “to close the gap in digital access across the district.”

      “Instead of taking three years, we are asking you to take a big step and close the gap this school year,” he said.

      Adams will present price quotes from at least three Chromebook suppliers at the Dec. 17 meeting. How soon the Chromebooks could be placed in service remains to be determined.

      Jefferson has said that initially the Chromebooks will remain in schools for daytime use by students, although policies and procedures may be developed to permit students to take them home by the fall of 2020.

      Part of the total technology package is the purchase of 174 classroom interactive LCD panels – large display screens – to supplement the 39 already in use. Action on the LCD panels is expected in time to have them installed over the summer.

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