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updated: 6/10/2014 7:09 PM

Elk Grove District 59 students getting computers and tablets

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Nearly all students in Elk Grove Township Elementary School District 59 will be getting their own computer devices next school year that officials say will provide opportunities for expanded learning.

"It's deeper, richer learning, not just for the sake of having technology, but how do we prepare our kids to make them successful for whatever path they choose," said Ben Grey, the district's chief innovation officer.

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The so-called 1:1 technology initiative, estimated to cost $4.2 million, would provide all students in grades kindergarten through eighth with a Google Nexus 7 tablet, and students in grades 3-8 with a Google Chromebook computer.

Each early childhood learning classroom will get five Nexus 7 tablets for sharing.

Only students in grades 3-8 will be allowed to take the computer devices home.

In addition, teachers are getting Apple MacBook laptops and Nexus 7 tablets.

The district will also be purchasing carrying cases for computers, protective covers for tablets, and charging carts for K-2 classrooms.

Junior high school students, in grades 6-8, have turned in their older Apple laptops that were due for replacement this year. Instead of getting new Apple computers, they will receive Chromebooks and Nexus 7 tablets.

A district technology committee that convened earlier this school year recommended both devices, which combined are less than half the cost of an Apple laptop, Grey said.

The committee had originally planned to replace desktop computers in elementary school labs, but those plans are on hold for at least another year while the 1:1 initiative is rolled out, Grey said.

School board member Mardell Schumacher, an early skeptic of the district's original technology plans, voted in favor of revised plans at this week's board meeting to purchase the devices since preschoolers won't have individual devices, and those in K-2 won't be taking those devices home.

"The plan you originally brought up at town hall meetings -- I was so opposed, but I'm very pleased you've cut back on a lot of this," Schumacher said. "The worst thing would have been to throw the baby out with the bath water, when what you needed to do was that not everybody was just sitting with a machine."

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