Student laptops delayed for another year


Photo Credit: Julia Rooney

Teachers received their own personal laptops at the beginning of the 2015-2016 in hopes that all the district lap tops would be the same.

by Patricia Whyte and Julia Blando

The original initiative to distribute individual laptops for each student has been deferred by the Glen Rock Board of Education for a year.

The plan began in 2013 with the introduction of the school’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, encouraging students to use their own cell phones or tablets in class for educational purposes.

Following this one-to-one laptop initiative, the High School was scheduled to issue laptops to the students for use in and out of the classroom starting in the September of the 2016-2017 school year.

The school was scheduled to lease the HP Elitebook 820 for three years before getting newer and more effective laptops for the entire student body, for a total of $200,000.

Recently, some of the board members have disagreed on which device is best suited for the initiative, as some suggested using Chromebooks, a cheaper computer, instead of the Elitebook. Other concerns were about adding 720 computers onto a wireless system that may not be ready for it.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to take a step back because of all of this. We were ready for it,” Principal John Arlotta said.

Glen Rock High School teacher and mother of two high school students, Kathleen Walter spoke at a Board of Education meeting before this decision was reached. She advocated for the approval of the five year plan and gave a teacher’s perspective on why the initiative would be beneficial.

“Personally, I was disappointed [with the deferral] because Alex and Jean are sophomores now, and I feel like having two years of computers would help them, I would like to see them get used to having computers around all the time,” said Walter, “It was a fair and responsible decision, but I’m still sad that it’s not going to happen”.

In previous years, the Board of Education was supportive of the plan for individual laptops. There have been recent concerns, primarily regarding finances.

Throughout the past few months, Board members expressed mixed opinions about the initiative and an eventual vote turned it down for this coming school year.

On April 25, a budget was presented to the board for next year’s expenses and all committees agreed on it, officially determining that the one-to-one laptop plan will not be in order this fall.

“Moving forward, we are anticipating that we will at some point have a one-to-one laptop initiative. It was my number one educational priority for this coming year. However, it was put on the side for now,” Valenti said.

In preparation for the initiative, the high school has not purchased desktop computers in the last few years in anticipation for these laptops, so Principal Arlotta feels as though the school is actually behind in terms of technology.

“When you don’t move forward, you move backward. That’s my worry,” said Arlotta. “We feel like the rug’s been pulled out from under us.”

While the initiative was turned down for next year, the hope is for the initiative to go through for the 2017-2018 school year.

“It’s not dead by any stroke of the imagination,” Valenti said.