Using one-time state funds provided to rural schools, Delta County Joint School District #50 has augmented its supply of Chromebooks. The school district now owns 2,935 Chromebooks, one for every student in grade 6-12.
The Chromebooks are being used in classrooms, but beginning next fall, high school students will also be able to take the laptops home.
While middle school students will also have an opportunity to check out a Chromebook for school use, it's not yet been decided if they will be able to take their laptops home.
School superintendent Caryn Gibson said the entire district has moved to a Google platform, which is built into the Chromebooks. Students use the Google platform to do homework and to submit assignments. It also facilitates communication among students and staff members within the school district.
"I see us moving more toward a blended learning atmosphere, where students can learn at their own pace and access a global classroom," Gibson said.
The Chromebooks will be available for checkout for $35 per academic year. The checkout fee is intended to defray the cost of buying new Chromebooks for incoming sixth graders, allowing seniors to leave with a Chromebook when they graduate. Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, graduating seniors who have paid the checkout fee for at least two years will be allowed to keep their Chromebook.
Before checking out a Chromebook at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, students and parents will be required to review and agree to the district's "Student Use of the Internet and Electronic Communications Policy."
The policy stresses the appropriate use of any district-owned computer, network or electronic communication device.
Students are expected to adhere to the following policies:
• Students must bring their Chromebooks to school every day and make sure they are fully charged.
• Students must treat their devices with care and never leave them in an unsecured location.
• Students must keep their device in a protective case or backpack when traveling.
• Students may not attempt to install or run any operating system on the Chromebook other than the ChromeOS operating system supported by the district.
Teachers and administrators have the right to collect and inspect Chromebooks at any time.
Personalized instruction is being offered in conjunction with Western State Colorado University, to help teachers get up to speed on Google and blended learning options. Anthony Cooper, the school district's technology director, said it's important staff members have instructional tools, as well as the technology. The professional development courses, to be offered over the summer, are intended to help teachers grow and learn in their profession, while providing educational credits that will help them advance on the salary schedule.