ISD 834 to ponder technology leasing options at next meeting

As the Stillwater Area School District moves toward a more digital-centered culture with things like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) day, the school board has some options to consider when it comes to providing technology to secondary students.

BYOD day was created to allow students bring in their own devices to school to create a mix of district-owned and student-owned devices in the future with an eventual shift to technology being considered an essential school supply for students, purchased by themselves or their families.

According to Director of Secondary Schools Ryan Laager, past surveys and data collection numbers have told district officials that about 75 percent of students have a laptop or mobile device they could bring to school and a large number of students already bring their own devices, while other students have expressed interest in leasing a device from the district.

Acknowledging the fact that not all students are so fortunate as to have their own devices district-wide, Laager presented device leasing options to the school board for consideration Feb. 13.

“What we’re looking at is a culture shift of sorts within the school district, focusing on a more digital environment,” Laager said. “Students right now need access to unlimited information, and this can help with that.”

Laager mentioned that the leasing options would take students of varying socioeconomic backgrounds into consideration, creating different payment plans and lower prices for kids who take part in the reduced-price lunch program or can’t afford to pay the total amount right off the bat. The proposal also mentions that the district would pursue Internet connectivity at these students’ homes with area partners. There are two options before the board:

Option 1 is a buy-to-lease option.

Laager said this plan includes an estimated purchase of up to 2,000 devices, either Chromebooks or iPad minis, to lease to students. The estimate is based on 50 percent of the student population needing devices, but Laager said the district would only pay for those devices that students wanted to lease.

The devices would be leased for $75 a year. To pay for the purchase, building funds would be reallocated for three years at Oak-Land Junior High, Stillwater Junior High and Stillwater Area High School. Each of the junior high schools would reallocate $11,000 per year over three years, and the high school would reallocate $14,000 per year to pay for this option.

The total district financial responsibility would be $108,000. Students interested in leasing the items would pay the school district an up-front fee to use the device.

Option 2 is a lease-to-lease option

This plan would include the opportunity for students to lease a variety of mobile devices, including Chromebooks and iPad minis.

Prices for students would be:

• $114 per year for a Chromebook on a two year lease

• $75 per year for an iPad mini on a three year lease

• $142 per year for the iPad Air on a three year lease

• $292 per year for a MacBook Air 11 on a three year lease.

Laager has said that they are leaning towards the iPad mini, iPad air and MacBook Air 11.

Again, building funds would be reallocated for three years to pay for the program, $11,000 a year at each of the junior high schools and $14,000 a year at Stillwater Area High School.

The district would lease the necessary number of devices. Any extra costs exceeding the $108,000 three-year total for this option would need to be covered by sponsorships, grants, capital (which could have a tax impact) or other monetary resources.

“The board would need to up front the cost at the moment,” he said. “In year one we’d be behind, and year two we’d be behind a bit too, but by year three the board would be paid back with the money that was set aside by the secondary schools.”

The proposal presented to the board indicates that there will be a need for increased tech support and maintenance with these new additions and the program would eventually be phased out as a bring your own device mentality took hold in the school.

A decision on the proposal will be made at the Feb. 27 board meeting.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]