Lake Villa District 41 buying more laptops for kids

  • Kelli Tosic, a seventh-grader at Palombi Middle School, works on a Chromebook computer.

    Kelli Tosic, a seventh-grader at Palombi Middle School, works on a Chromebook computer. Courtesy of Lake Villa School District 41

  • Each third- through eighth-grade student will get a Chromebook computer to use in class and at home.

    Each third- through eighth-grade student will get a Chromebook computer to use in class and at home. Associated Press photo

 
 
Posted6/6/2015 7:43 AM

Lake Villa School District 41 officials plan to dramatically expand a program that gives students personal laptop computers.

When the 2015-16 school year begins in August, all third- through eighth-graders will receive Chromebook computers for use in class, at home or anywhere else they travel.

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Additional computers will be purchased for younger students to use in their classrooms.

The proposed $390,320 purchase, which could be approved by the school board Monday, widens the reach of a District 41 initiative that began this school year.

Commonly called one-to-one initiatives, the efforts are becoming more common in Lake County and across the suburbs. Public and private schools in Gurnee, Mundelein and Palatine are among those with such efforts.

High schools in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Libertyville and Vernon Hills are expanding one-to-one initiatives in the fall.

Some schools use laptops in their one-to-one programs. Others use tablets.

Chromebooks are thin, lightweight laptops that primarily use Internet-based programs instead of traditional computer software. They're also typically less expensive than other laptops and tablets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Chromebooks seemed like a good choice for what we wanted to utilize them for," said Alex Barbour, District 41's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

The administration's goal is to prepare students for high school, college and even their professional lives, Barbour said.

In the first phase of the program this school year, about 700 third- through eighth-graders were given Chromebooks. The machines, which cost the district $244,167, were spread across all four District 41 schools.

The computers went to students in classrooms led by teachers who had strong technology skills and were motivated to use them, Barbour said.

More than 1,300 additional computers are set to be purchased this summer for the program's expansion. They'll be given to students in the first few weeks of the new school year, Barbour said.

About 1,200 of the new Chromebooks will be given to third- through eighth-graders. The others will be used in kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classrooms and won't go home with students.

Most students who receive Chromebooks will be assessed annual $50 fees; the younger students will be charged $15 annually.

Additionally, all third- through eighth-graders will be required to purchase annual $5 insurance policies for the computers.

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