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The four-year agreement costs $363,186, with an option to buy or return the used machines.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Some student and staff laptops in Roanoke County will soon be leased instead of purchased.
The school board approved an agreement Tuesday to lease laptops for ninth grade students and for the staff at 12 of the system’s elementary schools.
The four-year lease agreement costs $363,186, which is already allocated in the system’s budget. At the end of the term the system will have the option to return the equipment or purchase it.
Leasing the equipment is a quarter of a percent less than buying it outright. Penny Hodge, the system’s assistant superintendent of finance, said the trade-off is being able to return the laptops.
Doing so will keep the system’s stock of resources fresh and, according to agenda materials, hopefully move the system away from pushing dated equipment down to lower grades.
The older equipment can be slow, unable to handle new software and unable to retain a battery charge, according to the materials. It also takes additional technology support to keep such old equipment working.
Previously the school system has purchased laptops outright for ninth grade students, who then use the computers for the next four years.
Roanoke County schools implemented a pilot take-home laptop computer program for some high school students in 2003. Since then the program has grown to include all high school students.
Recent budget cuts meant scaling down the program some years. During the 2010-11 school year, take-home units were not issued to ninth grade students. Older, out-of-warranty laptop computers were available for in-school use.
Technology costs have been a challenge as expenses increase while the recession shrinks funding . According to agenda materials, as state funding for schools has been reduced in the past four years, the school board has opted to reallocate funds for replacement of laptops to other budgetary needs.
Officials have also found that technology costs aren’t the easiest to cut, since equipment is woven intricately into the system.
For example, officials must keep servers and networking updated to maintain Internet infrastructure. In recent years the school board has also moved toward digital textbooks, so cutting back on laptops would be problematic.
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