Decatur City Schools will spend almost $500,000 on new technology, with the investment putting Chromebooks in the hands of every fourth- and fifth-grade student as well as adding interactive touchscreen panels in classrooms.
“We’re leveling the playing field for students who may not have access to electronic devices,” said Emily Elam, DCS supervisor of technology.
The lease agreement Decatur has signed with Dell Financial Services will cost the school district about $157,372 annually for three years and provide warranties for 1,460 computers, said Chief Financial Officer Melanie Maples.
Local money is paying for the computers, she said.
Superintendent Michael Douglas said students are digital creatures and it’s important for the district to continue to expand technology, especially in the Title I schools where the poverty levels are the highest.
Elam said the new Chromebooks will be passed out to students in the next couple of weeks. She said their classrooms also will have 65-inch panels on rolling carts that will change how teachers deliver instruction.
“Everything is wireless, so if a teacher wants to project what a student is doing on the screen, the teacher can,” she said.
The technology build-out in Decatur schools started in 2011 with an initiative aimed at putting laptop computers in the hands of every middle school student. Two years later, the school board voted to spend $1.7 million for computers, new servers and workstation upgrades.
Benjamin Davis Elementary Principal Aundrea Hanson, who recently received 60 Chromebooks and has a pending grant application to purchase 250 laptops, said it’s impossible for schools to do without computers.
“Our students are in a world that is more and more dominated by technology,” she said.
Ben Davis had one computer lab and 279 students when she became the school’s principal…