Board approves student laptops

By Brian Knox | Published Sunday, May 23, 2010

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Students at Decatur High School will receive a major technology upgrade this fall: their own laptop computers.

The school board Thursday approved the purchase of 875 laptops for the high school’s 1-to-1 laptop program. The total cost is $882,581and is funded by the technology portion of the May 2008 bond package. Voters approved $5.4 million for technology purchases.

The board had approved the technology plan in December 2008, which included the 1-to-1 initiative as well as shared laptops for the middle, intermediate and elementary schools; laptops for every teacher; ceiling-mounted multimedia projectors; and wireless Internet access in all district buildings. Many of the projects have already been implemented.

Overall, the board approved six technology-related items totaling nearly $1.3 million Thursday.

According to the 1-to-1 program, students will receive the Apple laptops their freshman year and will keep the same computer through the end of their senior year. The computers will be used both at school and at home throughout the school year but will remain at the school during the summer.

District technology director Troy Bagwell explained that bond money will sustain the program through the year 2016. He said the program will be reassessed each year.

“There’s never been a better time to do this,” Bagwell said. “(High school principal) Mr. (Jason) Cochran has a great staff. You should feel confident that this will be fantastic. We will make this one of the best laptop programs in the country.”

The board voted unanimously in favor of the laptop purchase.

The board also approved the purchase of 120 Macbooks and 68 iMacs for Young Elementary School at a cost of $174,097; 15 laptops for the gifted and talented programs at the three elementary schools at a cost of $44,584; 1,150 licenses for Office 2008 for Mac at a cost of $46,759; 140 Alpha Smart Neo2 units for Young Elementary at a cost of $28,925; and network equipment and phone system upgrades at a cost of $122,875.

Board reorganization

Gary Clayton, who defeated Jerry Howard in this month’s election, was sworn in to Place 1 and Jeff Elder, who defeated Ruby Quanz, was sworn in to Place 2 at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting. The board then voted to make Alan White board president, Kevin Haney vice president and Chris Lowery secretary.

Meal price increase

It will cost students a little more to eat most meals at school next year. As part of the consent agenda, the board approved raising the cost of all lunches 20 cents. The cost of breakfast will also be increased 20 cents for the middle school and high school, but it will remain the same for elementary schools.

New lunch prices are $2.70 for the high school, $2.45 for middle school and $2.20 for elementary. New breakfast prices include $1.45 for the high school and middle school. Elementary breakfast price will stay at $1.25.

According to information provided in the board packet, the cafeteria operated with a loss of $80,000 in 2008-2009 school year. The price increase will not prevent a loss next year, but it is expected to limit the amount of loss.

Prices were last increased in 2008-2009 by a quarter for lunch at all campuses, 20 cents for breakfast at the elementary and middle schools and 25 cents for breakfast at the high school.

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