Iola-Scandinavia School Board discusses options
By Jane Myhra
Chromebooks and laptops were discussed by the Iola-Scandinavia School Board at its April 11 meeting.
The board agreed to allow a switch to Chromebooks for middle/high school students.
“The basic skills are transferable,” said Travis Bassett, a member of the Technology Committee.
Currently, the school district is spending about $630 per laptop, not including insurance. Chromebooks are about $230 per unit, plus about $90 for the Google license, insurance and a case.
“Some of the current laptops are on their fifth year and they are not functioning well,” said High School Principal Sara Anderson.
She urged the board to make an immediate decision, because the teachers need time to learn new functionalities, and the technology team needs several months to work on implementation prior to the 2016-17 school year.
According to Anderson, there are enough functional laptops for about two classes. In order for each high school student to have a computer, the district would have needed to purchase about 100 new laptops for next year.
“By no means are we getting rid of the laptops,” said District Administrator David Dyb. “We may be able to convert existing laptops to Chromebooks.”
“We do have money now to get (Chromebooks) implemented and get it going,” said Business Manager Sarah Thiel. “We can supply the upper grades with new Chromebooks, and the others can use converted laptops.”
Some board members were concerned the decision was based on budget limitations.
Members of the Technology Committee said the Chromebooks are more reliable and have a longer life.
“The laptops are a daily battle,” Dyb said. “We have about 30 laptops go offline every time there is an update. Chromebooks are web-based and update automatically.”
Anderson said the Chromebooks option will potentially get more students with a computer.
“As long as the teachers have time to adapt, there will be a better educational experience,” Bassett said.
“If the experiment fails, we will be scrambling to find money for technology,” said board member Mike Koles. “If the experiment works, we will have money to invest in elementary technology.”
In other business, the board approved the final plans and construction agreement for locker rooms at Thunderbird Field. The proposed Dylan Thorne Memorial Locker Rooms will be financed entirely through private donations.