Urbana City Schools’ drive to get technology in the hands of students has some parents upset about the cost.
The district instituted its one-to-one technology initiative this year for sixth and seventh graders. It involves getting Chromebooks to every student in those grades. The district chose to do this to increase student engagement and better prepare students for a future where technology is integral in daily life. Parents were informed of the program in December and January.
As part of the program, parents could buy the Chromebooks outright or pay on an installment plan in a couple ways. The Chromebooks cost the district $200 each, plus an additional $26 a month for Google Management software and $6.50 per user per year for Go Guardian, a program to help fine-tune what programs students can and cannot access on the technology, Director of Technology Integration Kelli Marsh told the school board at its Tuesday meeting.
The school district’s goal is to eventually have Chromebooks in the hands of all sixth to 12th graders.
Marsh told the board that some parents had complained about the cost, especially parents who already had purchased laptops or other devices for their children and felt purchasing Chromebooks was unnecessary. District administrators attempted to adjust the payment options so families with technology at home could pay to “rent” the Chromebook at school and use their own devices at home.
Some parents felt the cost of the rental was too high. Speaking on behalf of several parents, parent Victoria Hurley told the school board the fee was the same as if a parent were paying to own the device after four years of use.
Hurley said several parents would like another option, perhaps a less expensive rental fee, since they have no intention of owning the Chromebook. She said parents with multiple children fear the additional expense will break their budgets.
“We want the program to succeed. We think it’s a good program. We just think the implementation was not thought out fully,” she said.
District officials said they have been attempting to come up with solutions. The additional payment option – renting a Chromebook during the school day – came about from discussions with parents.
Board members encouraged parents to continue talking with the administration and with the school board to find a solution that works for everyone.
In other action, the board:
•Approved the request for leave without pay for Julie Sasala for April 27, 28 and May 1.
•Approved the unpaid leave of absence for Mark Agerter from Jan. 31, 2017, to the end of the 2016-17 school year.
•Approved the unpaid leave of absence for Leslie Agerter, from one-half day of Jan. 13, 2017, through the end of the 2016-17 school year.
•Accepted a total of $985 in donations for the High School Academic Banquet from the Frantz family, the Stevens family, the Michael family, the Huelsman family, the Grafflin Family, the Flora family, Johnson Welded Products, The Hall Co., The Peoples Savings Bank, Michael Farms, and Urbana Lions Club; a $110 donation to the Urbana High School Swim Team from Custom Sportswear; a $700 donation to Urbana Junior High from Scholarship American; and $500 to the Urbana High School Student Council from Sodexo.
•Approved authorization to advertise for bids for lawn care.
•Approved Maintenance Worker Matt Alexander as needed for the 2016-17 school year.
•Approved Carleton Cotner as a teacher for the 2017-18 school year.
•Accepted resignations of Associate Alicia Hale, effective Feb. 20, 2017; Show Choir Director Rusty Myers, Head High School Girls Track Coach Mark Agerter, Head High School Boys Track Coach Leslie Agerter, and Assistant High School Girls Track Coach Megan Michael, all effective immediately.
•Approved hiring Carleton Cotner as head high school football coach at Step 2 for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved hiring Head Boys Soccer Coach Zac Stacy and Junior High Football Cheer Coach Amanda Russell, both at Step 0, for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved hiring Head High School Boys Track Coach Carleton Cotner at Step 2; Head High School Girls Track Coach Megan Michael at Step 0, and Assistant High School Track Coach Michael Mays at Step 2, all for the 2016-17 school year.
•Approved the Urbana High School Cheerleaders trip to State Cheer Championships March 4-5 in Columbus.
•Approved the Urbana High School DECA trip to DECA District Conference March 17-18 in Columbus.
•Approved the Urbana Junior High sixth grade trip to Camp Kirkmont May 1-12 in Zanesfield.
•Approved the Urbana High School FFA trip to the state FFA Convention May 4-5 in Columbus.
•Approved the Urbana High School Wrestling trip to the district tournament March 3-4 in Wilmington.
•Approved the Urbana High School Wrestling trip to the state tournament March 9-11 in Columbus.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.