Chelsea Schreiber

HBCSD to spend $75,957 on Chromebooks

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The Hermosa Beach City School District recently approved the purchase of 192 Hewlett-Packard Chromebook computers for State Common Core testing.

The Chromebooks and support services will be budget for maximum of $75,957, money that will not be coming from the district’s general fund but instead from a recently allocated Common Core State Standards Implementation Funding Grant of $271,000.

“That money can only be used in three ways,” HBCSD Superintendent Patricia Escalante said. “Professional development, technological or the purchase of instructional materials that must be in line with the common core.”

The school board voted to approve an allocation of 60 percent of the fund for technology, and 20 percent for both materials and professional development.

“We have to make sure we can use the restricted money in a way that’s prudent and slightly flexible, knowing that at the end of the 2014 – 2015 school year all of those funds must be spent,” said Escalante.

The school board previously approved the purchase of increased bandwidth along with an improved WiFi infrastructure for the district with the Common Core funds to help prepare the district for the Smarter Balanced Assessment System – a new student assessment system aligned with a common core of academic standards for English language arts literacy as well as mathematics.

“Computers are the number one thing we will be working on,” said Escalante. “It’s a really significant purchase for the district to consider in order for us to be properly prepared to test our students for the Smarter Balance.”

In order to be ready for the new program’s electronic testing requirements, the state allocated $200 per student, $1.25 billion total, to all school districts in the state.

According to a report from the school board, the decision to purchase Chromebooks instead of iPads was made for a variety of reasons.

“The HP Chromebooks are laptops, which allows several advantages,” Escalante said. “The size of the screen is 14-inches versus 8-inches, and now that we know they’re doing seven hours of testing, that could have an impact on students. There’s also a keyboard built into the unit, versus an external one that could be attached to the iPad. Also, they’re 50 percent less money, and HP is what we have for our other systems in the district.”

Having one platform was important because of the cost of repairs and parts associated different computer systems.

“We’re looking to purchase 192 Chromebooks,” Escalante said. “That would allow us to have 30 computers on six carts – enough to match the number of sections we have at each grade level. After the testing period is over, the classes can do projects and check out the carts.”

Escalante also said that other districts, like the Redondo Beach School District, are also using Chromebooks and many school districts are forgoing traditional Word Suites like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint for the cloud-based Google doc programs.

“We’re going to get the newest thing so it will last us a long time,” said Escalante.

The first field test for the program will be for students in grades three through eight and will take place in mid March and early June, 2014. Grades eleven as well as ninth and tenth grade will also participate in the field test. ER

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