2018-08-19 / Front Page

Chesaning schools update Chromebooks and install sound fields

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

CHESANING – On Monday, Aug. 13, the Chesaning Union Schools Board of Education approved the purchase of 250 Chromebook computers for student use, four computer charging carts and 29 new classroom sound field systems in time for the new school year. The purchases will be made using funds from the school district’s bus/technology bond.

Chesaning Union Schools Technology Coordinator Brett Russell told the school board, “We’re moving toward 600 Chromebook devices for student use. The oldest ones are at Big Rock and are nearly six years old.”

The school district is purchasing 250 new Hewlett Packard Chromebooks at a cost of $44,472.50 ($177.89 each); plus, four charging carts at $989 each. The new Chromebooks are replacing the oldest Chromebooks in the school district. The old devices are now obsolete having reached the five-year automatic update expiration. This means Google will no longer guarantee updates for the software on these devices, Russell explained. He said the old ones still work and are in pretty good condition, but will no longer receive full support from the Google Cloud and Google for Education teams.

“They are still in usable condition,” Russell said.

Nowadays, students use computers for online state testing. Schools can’t risk software glitches that could interrupt these tests. The old Chromebooks could pose a problem during testing because they aren’t updated. The school district doesn’t want to take that chance.

During the Aug. 13 meeting, the board discussed possible options for using the outdated notebooks. Board members talked about the possibility of either selling the devices or giving them to students who don’t have a computer at home. Russell pointed out that students who don’t have a computer at home, probably won’t have access to WI-FI at home either. The school board has not yet made an official decision on how the obsolete Chromebook devices should be used or distributed.

Russell said they will be phasing out approximately 250 of the old devices this year. He told the board, the schools got five years of use out of the Chromebook computers having paid $250 for each of them.

He added that the cost of Chromebooks has been decreasing over the past few years. “This $177.89 price is down from the $250 amount we paid in 2016 and the $311.75 we paid per device before that,” Russell said. “It’s a great price,” he added.

Russell told the Citizen that the school district currently has 800 computer devices available for student use between the three school buildings; this includes Chromebook and standard desktop computers in the computer labs.

In other technology updates, the school board approved the purchase of 29 new classroom 40-watt speaker systems. This is enough for every classroom at Big Rock Elementary, prekindergarten through fourth grade, at a total cost of $7,047.

Russell said, “It’s really one of the best models. This has the ability to connect to the wireless pendants.” The wireless microphone pendants, used by teachers to amplify their voices within the classroom, are optional and run approximately $400 each.

“Currently we have six that we used for demo purposes. There are several different models in use. We tried multiple models that range in cost to find the best solution for the price,” he said. He described it as sound field technology.

Superintendent Mike McGough said, “Research shows that students pick up instructions better when using a sound field.” McGough explained that the top system cost $1,900 per unit, but even with the pendant wireless microphone, these are $600 each.

School board member Charles Rolfe asked whether using sound field systems in neighboring classrooms would disrupt each other.

Russell responded, “The demos were set up across from each other (it wasn’t a problem).”

Rolfe moved to approve the classroom sound systems. The board unanimously approved.

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