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More than 1,600 Hamilton County Schools elementary students will receive new Chromebooks this school year.

The board of education voted unanimously on Aug. 20 to approve a 36-month lease totaling $749,985, or $249,995 a year, to fund the computers. The cost will be covered by budgeted technology operating funds, according to a memo from Ben Coulter, the school system's information technology director, to Superintendent Bryan Johnson.

These particular laptops will be used primarily at the elementary level, as middle and high school students already have similar devices.

District communications director Tim Hensley told the Times Free Press by email that these initial units will not replace current Chromebooks in use by students but will go toward closing the gap in the number of elementary students who don't have Chromebooks and "are using other teaching methods until they receive" them, including books and other classroom and library resources.

"It is not a part of the HCS EdConnect program but will certainly be used in conjunction with that program, along with HCS at Home, HCS Virtual School and any need the district may have for a student to participate in virtual learning. It is part of the effort to be one-to-one in the district," Hensley said. "The amount budgeted would secure the Chromebooks in the lease agreement. The district purchased as many as possible within the budget allotment."

The laptops are scheduled to be received by mid-October and completely distributed by December 2020.

 

Local church helps provide Chromebooks for East Side Elementary students

In a separate announcement, East Side Elementary School was given a $32,500 donation from the Church of the Good Shepherd. With the money, the K-5 school was able to buy an additional 147 Chromebooks to move closer to the goal of having one device for every child at the campus. The board also leases Chromebooks from Lenovo.

"This year, more than ever, student access to a device for virtual and remote learning is critical," said East Side Principal Greg Wilkey in a news release. "Thanks to the generosity and our ongoing partnership with the Church of the Good Shepherd, every East Side student in first through fifth grade will now have a Chromebook."

Contact Monique Brand at mbrand@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @MoBrandNews.

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