In its quest to educate parents on the upcoming one-to-one technology initiative being implemented during the second semester of the current academic year, the St. Clair R-XIII School District has scheduled a fifth “Power Up” meeting.
Superintendent Mike Murphy has said it is mandatory for parents or guardians to attend one of the meetings.
The fifth meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, in the St. Clair High School gymnasium. Parents who have yet to attend one strongly are encouraged to be at this meeting.
Topics that will be covered include Chromebook expectations, usage and accidental damage fees, a Google Chrome overview and device connectivity outside the school day.
Chromebooks are the devices that will be distributed to 1,400 students in the middle and high school in January as the blended learning environment in the classroom unfolds.
Parents and guardians must attend one of the meetings in part so they can reserve a Chromebook for their child. If the usage agreement form is not filled out and signed by both the student and the parent, an issued Chromebook cannot leave school property at the end of the day.
The usage fee is $20 per student per year.
“St. Clair School District requires that a Chromebook usage fee be purchased prior to deployment of the Chromebook to your child,” the district’s Chromebook policy reads. “The annual fee will be $20 per device and must be paid during student registration or mandatory parent meetings.”
The policy goes on to state that a sliding scale has been developed for families who have multiple children in the district.
It also states that if the usage fee can’t be paid, children will be allowed to check out a Chromebook daily during the school day only.
During Thursday’s board of education meeting, Superintendent Mike Murphy informed board members that slightly more than 50 percent of parents attended one of the previous four “Power Up” meetings.
“We’re going to have that one more meeting before Christmas,” he said. “We need to get the word out that this is mandatory.”
He also said the district at this point is not meeting with parents individually to discuss the policy and accept a signed form. He said there simply isn’t enough manpower to handle that.
Murphy reminded board members that the usage fee really is an insurance policy.
“You can pay the $20 now and be covered if the device breaks,” he said.
He also reminded board members that if parents opt not to sign the usage agreement, the student will not be allowed to bring the device home and that if it is damaged or broken the student will be responsible for the entire $280 replacement cost.
In November, when the board of education approved the Chromebook policy, Murphy said that, “It will be stressed that the device belongs to the district and not the student.”
The policy is needed as the district nears the implementation of its one-to-one technology initiative approved earlier this year. The board approved spending about $500,000 to purchase Chromebooks for junior and senior high school students as well as faculty and administrators to use in the education initiative.
Murphy told board of education members earlier this year that the policy is a compilation of what several other school districts have implemented.
Murphy also said the computers will be individually numbered in an effort to keep track of them. They also will have laser printing stating they are the property of the St. Clair school district.
The student will use same computer daily, whether he or she can take it home or not.
In addition, the policy discusses damage claims.
“Each claim will be assessed a deductible within the current school year to be paid for by the student,” it reads, adding that the first claim/deductible will be up to $50 with the second claim/deductible increasing to $100.
The third claim/deductible will be $280, which is about the cost of the Chromebook.
On Thursday, Murphy told board members that the district has had a few issues with firewalls and filtering come up, but that the problems are being worked on and hopefully solved.
He said it’s possible the district will end up using a third party for filtering purposes.
The Chromebooks are scheduled to be distributed to students the week of Jan. 6 after they return from winter break.