Darien allocates grant funding for laptops at middle school
The board unanimously approved the allocation of the Title I funds for the Chromebooks at its Tuesday meeting.
Through the Title I grant, Darien received $304,835 from the state Department of Education, which district administration recommended to be used to purchase 1,150 Chromebook laptops.
The 12 Chromebook carts that are already at the middle school will be used instead at either the elementary schools or the high school, according to Marc MArin, director of instructional technology, although a firm plan has not been established.
Purchasing the Chromebooks will allow the district to conduct the Smarter Balanced Assessment Tests in a much shorter period of time, said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Tim Canty, because all the students will be able to take the test at once, instead of rotating in cycles.
"I like the concept," said board member Katie Stein. "I just want to make sure that the teachers are prepared to teach with the technology."
Marin told the board that the teachers are eager to be able to use the Chromebook carts that are available at the school. There is one cart for each of the teams at the middle school with a total of 300 laptops .
Darien started receiving Title I grant funding during the 2012-13 school year. The $86,114 was used for a computer lab and classroom computers at Middlesex Middle School. In 2013-14, $244,923 was given to Darien and used for computer labs at each of the five elementary schools and Learning Connection classrooms at Darien High School.
Each of the Chromebooks cost about $270, according to Jeff Adams, the director of information technology.
The Chromebooks, Adams explained, are specialized in terms of its software and that the high school requires a variety of programs for a variety of classes. Through programming, Adams and Marin can install programs and set bookmarks on the Internet across each grade level so that each laptop is customized.
Hagerty-Ross told Marin and Adams that she understands the idea, but doesn't know if Middlesex Middle School is "the right place to deploy it."
Marin told the board that he's had several conversations with administrators from other districts and that the reoccurring theme is that the Chromebooks are the best option for school districts because of their easy use and low cost.