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Only Oswego

District 308 Eyes Plan to Provide Laptops to Students, Staff

Dec 08, 2015 07:11PM ● By Shannon Antinori

Oswego schools could distribute nearly 26,000 laptops to students and teachers as part of a district-wide technology plan.

After cutting costs of the proposed five-year technology plan by nearly $10 million, a revised proposal calls for distributing Chromebooks to teachers and students at all grade levels, Community Relations Director Brian Graves said in a press release.

Dubbed the Pathway to 2020 Technology Plan, the scaled-back proposal would cost $26 million, spread out over five years, Graves said. The initial plan called for expenditures of $36.3 million. The lower-cost proposal nearly doubles the number of district-provided mobile devices, according to Graves.

But the reduced price tag is still a bit high for Oswego board of education president Matt Bauman, who said the proposal is still in its early stages.

“We understand the need to make some improvements and changes to our technology infrastructure,” Bauman said. “But that’s a big cost.”

The plan was first presented to the previous board of education back in March. But a Nov. 23 presentation by Director of Technology Allen Clasen was the first time the current board — including three newly elected members — had heard it, Bauman said.

“Really, for this board, it was a rough draft,” Bauman said. “This is nowhere near a done deal.”

Bauman said the board has asked for revisions that would cut the costs of the plan even more, such as initially rolling out laptops to high school students only.

“We know that we want to do something, but we need more options,” Bauman said. “It’s too much.”

The proposal is a response to what Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt called a “fragmented technology plan (that) has not kept pace with rapid innovations in learning technology or with the capabilities of its students and teachers.”

Wendt said it’s time to move the district’s technology forward.

“It is our responsibility to provide all of our students with the best education possible and prepare them for the future… a future that includes technology,” Wendt said in a press release. “Mobile technology already plays a large role in our students’ lives. Mobile technology already plays a large role in our students’ lives

In the first year of the proposed rollout, 3,300 Chromebooks would be provided to teachers and in carts to kindergarten through eighth-graders. During the 2016-17 school year, 7,200 Chromebooks would be distributed in carts to kindergarten through fifth-grade students, as well as all District 308 high school students. The following year, another 7,200 laptops would be distributed in carts to kindergarten through fifth-grade students, and to all junior high schools.

The original proposal was revised based on input from teachers, administrators and staff, according to Clasen.

The Chromebook rollout would cost the district $12 million, or $462 per device, according to Graves. The plan takes into account graduating students, projected population growth and a three-year refresh cycle.

The $26 million price tag also includes infrastructure improvements, software, licenses and training, Bauman said. How soon a revised proposal could go before the board for a vote is uncertain, according to Bauman, and no timeline has been set for implementing the technology plan.

Wendt said options for funding the plan will be presented to the board in January.

"Similar to the district's five-year maintenance plan, the district's proposed technology plan can be funded in various ways," he said. 

Photo by Flickr user Laurie Sullivan under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license