The middle schools face a computer dilemma.
Currently, students are allowed to bring their own devices to class. When students have different models, however, this causes a problem for teachers when the devices are not functioning properly, Paul Puzzanghera, head of information technology, told the School Committee last Thursday evening.
The teachers, he noted, are not information technology experts – and the IT staff cannot be at all the middle schools at once.
Puzzanghera suggested three options: Keeping the status quo, where students bring their own devices, which will mean teachers continuing to spend more time trouble-shooting and less time teaching; a managed, bring your own device approach, which would continue to allow students to bring their own computers to class, but the school district would manage them instead of their parents; and, finally, have the schools purchase Chromebook devices for all students, allowing them to be managed by the school district.
Puzzanghera estimated the cost of buying Chrome books for all the middle school students would be approximately $200,000 to $300,000 per year, while the other two options wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime.
He touted the idea of everyone having the same type of device.
"Every device would work exactly the same," he said.
Wood Hill Middle School Principal Patrick Bucco agreed.
"It would be nice to have everybody on the same playing field," he said.
Superintendent Sheldon Berman warned the school budget is "incredibly tight."
School Committee Chairman Leon Blumstein said he would have to see a "clear source of money" before voting to spend that much money. He also said he would like to hear what parents have to say about the matter.
Berman said he will look into how the schools might pay for the Chromebooks.
"If we don't have the money, we can't do it," said School Committee member Tracey Spruce.