All Wauconda High freshmen to get Chromebooks in fall
All incoming freshmen at Wauconda High School will be assigned district-owned computers for use in and out of classrooms under a program set to rollout this fall.
It's the start of a 1-to-1 computer initiative that eventually will include every Wauconda High student.
"Issuing them to freshmen will see the most benefit because they will use them their entire four years of high school," Wauconda Unit District 118 Superintendent Daniel Coles said.
Chromebooks were chosen over Apple iPad tablets or other computers because District 118 students already use Chromebooks and Google software extensively in their classrooms, Coles said.
"We are a Google education-based district," he said. "Our staff and students use Gmail (and) Google apps including Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides."
Third- through eighth-graders in District 118 use Chromebooks in class but can't take them home. Wauconda High students have used district-owned Chromebooks in their classes, too.
Coles believes providing personal Chromebooks to Wauconda High students will increase student engagement in school and at home. And since not all students own computers, it also helps close a "digital gap" that exists in the community, he said.
Freshmen were chosen for the program launch because they've had classroom experience with the Chromebooks since seventh grade, Coles said.
"They are ready and so are we," he said.
District officials plan to spend $134,000 on 400 computers. The school board tentatively approved the plan last week and is expected to formally greenlight it Thursday.
Since more computers will be needed for every freshman class as the program rolls out, Coles expects the program will cost $134,000 annually.
"We wish we had the funding to expand the program to the sophomores, juniors and seniors next year as well," Coles said.
An estimated 350 freshmen will get Chromebooks when the 2016-17 term begins. They will not have to pay a special annual technology fee to help cover the cost, he said.
There are no plans to expand the 1-to-1 program to younger students at the other District 118 schools. Their in-class Chromebook use will continue, Coles said.
Public and private schools in Gurnee, Mundelein, Palatine, Schaumburg and other suburbs have similar programs. Some use Chromebooks, while others use iPads or different computer brands.
All students at Libertyville High School and Vernon Hills High received Chromebooks this past fall as part of District 128's new 1-to-1 program. Mundelein High's effort uses Chromebooks, too.
Thursday's District 118 school board meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the district office, 555 N. Main St.