School district learns cost of laptops for all

by Roxanne McKnight
Staff Writer

The head of Mexia ISD’s IT Department, Colby Arch­i­bald, reported to the school board at last week’s meeting what it would cost to provide laptop computers for all students in the district, a plan called 1:1, referring to one laptop for each student.
The board had asked Arch­ibald in January to get that information, so he re­searched Apple, Android, Microsoft tablets and Google Chromebooks, he said, and also asked 14 neighboring school districts what they were doing about implementing the 1:1 plan.
Archibald told the board he recommended Chromebooks as the best choice for Mexia ISD if the district chooses to provide laptops. Using a PowerPoint presentation and several videos, Archibald described Chromebooks as cheaper, faster, more secure and more easily controlled by the school.
A key to success, he stressed, would be requiring teachers to learn and use the technology. In the past, he said, devices were purchased with no plan on how to integrate them in the classroom.
Providing Google Chromebooks for all Mexia students, from first to 12th grade, would cost between $747,616 and $844,516; or for the high school only, between $524,116 and $578,266, he said.
Additional costs would result from the necessary increase in bandwidth to support all the devices, additional hard-wiring and hiring someone to train teachers and help them integrate the devices into their classrooms.
Even if the district does not choose the 1:1 plan, he said more money needs to be allocated to the district’s other IT needs, such as upgrading its infrastructure and wireless, increasing its bandwidth, getting a training and integration consultant, and updating the district’s computers.

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