CLEARFIELD – By the 2019-20 school year, every student in grades 9-12 will have a laptop computer at the Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School.
At Monday night’s reorganizational meeting, the Clearfield school board approved for the district to proceed with the implementation of a one-to-one laptop program.
The district will purchase 700 laptops outright at a cost of approximately $270,000. Business Administrator Sam Maney advised the board there was some “one-time” funding available to help offset the cost.
During the current year, Maney said the district sold the former Clearfield Middle School property for $75,000 and administrative building for $55,000. Plus, he said it has $40-45,000 from a rural community grant.
“Is it going to cover the entire cost? No,” Maney said, “but this is an opportune time with this one-time funding. If there was a time to do it, now would be that time.”
Technology Director Kevin Stibitz assured the board the life of these laptops would easily be four years, but more than likely six, seven or even longer.
Superintendent Terry Struble indicated full implementation would be by the 2019-20 school year, but plans were to phase laptops in by grade level, so that the tech staff and teachers weren’t overwhelmed.
He said this way it would also give the technology department a chance to program the laptops, troubleshoot any issues after their distribution and communicate responsibility to students/parents.
Struble said students would be able to take their laptops back and forth from the school, and they’d be held responsible for any intentional damage.
He said he’s spoken to officials from other schools, and they haven’t reported any major problems. Stibitz added that these laptops have been built tougher than the average used in homes.
“With the majority of our students who get something we trust them with, we get it back in the same condition,” Struble said. But he did say some would “abuse” the laptops, forget them, etc.
However, he pointed out students who otherwise type papers on their cellular phones would now be able to continue their work at home, if they choose to.
Stibitz reminded that students’ laptop usage policies, which apply in-school, would also be applicable at home as well as any other place they choose to use it.
Board members Tim Morgan and Greg Clarke commented that the board needed to proceed and give students the best tools, including laptops, so that they can compete with the best in the future.
According to Struble, he’s aiming for the district to transition toward the one-to-one laptop program because there’s currently a shortage in laptop carts.
He said teachers are using the carts enough in the classrooms that it’s been creating more and more challenges with moving them around and making them available to others.
He said they could add carts for the 28 “core subject” teachers, which include grades 9-12 in English, social studies, science and math, but this would require about 100 more laptops than students.
Additionally, Struble said more carts still wouldn’t make laptops available for use in other classes. He noted West Branch, Mo-Valley and Philipsburg already have one-to-one laptop programs.
Struble indicated the administration had recommended for Clearfield to begin implementation of this laptop program with the current-year’s juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
Once the laptops were received, he said the tech staff would program and distribute to the junior students first, then to the sophomores and freshmen.
Next year’s freshmen would get their laptops at the start of the school year, so that for 2019-20 every student would have their own laptop.
Struble said the current laptop carts would be transitioned into the seventh- and eighth-grade areas to address technology needs existing there.