All Woodland Middle School students getting computers
All Woodland Middle School students are expected to receive laptop computers starting in the 2016-17 academic season.
Woodland Elementary District 50 board members last week agreed to spend about $256,000 to lease Chromebook laptops for pupils in grades six through eight. Roughly 2,180 Chromebooks would be leased for what educators call a "1:1 technology initiative."
District 50 Superintendent Joy Swoboda said the school board's decision culminated about 1½ years of work on the issue. A technology strategic plan committee performed the legwork and brought a recommendation on the Chromebooks to the elected officials.
"We are appreciative of the time and considerations brought forth by the technology committee's report in June that discussed the role of technology and the importance of transforming our classrooms and the integration of technology in the student-learning environment," Swoboda said.
When the issue was discussed at a board meeting in August, elected officials said Woodland's financial limitations are why technology devices cannot be provided to all 6,200 students in the district. Board President Chris Schrantz reiterated the point after the Chromebooks were approved.
"It was our vision that we provide our middle school students with the appropriate tools to support and empower them as they advance through Woodland and transition to high school," Schrantz said.
More and more suburban school districts are providing laptops or computer tablets to some or all students.
At Gurnee Elementary District 56, all 2,250 students -- from prekindergarten through eighth grade -- began receiving computer tablets in 2012. District 56 was among 100 school systems from across the country to be lauded for digital learning by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in November 2014.
Woodland's move toward the Chromebooks for 2016-17 comes on top of another technology initiative for the current academic year.
District 50 will have free password-protected Wi-Fi hot spots in all school parking lots, a move officials say is an effort to help students whose parents can't afford fast Internet service at home.