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IW School Board OK’s laptops

ISLE OF WIGHT

Isle of Wight County’s School Board voted 4-0 with one absent to approve the purchase of 324 laptops for incoming freshmen at both of the county’s high schools. The purchase will cost the division approximately $415,000.

According to Eric Cooprider, director of information technology and network services for the division, the laptops would be combined with 126 purchased with last school year’s money for a total of 450 computers. Of these, 135 would be for Windsor High School.

Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of community and media relations, said that students will use the laptops for instructional purposes, including accessing online resources instead of or in addition to using a physical textbook, collaborating with other students, accessing their school Google accounts, and in some cases, submitting work to teachers who use Google Classroom. Students will return their laptops to the division at the end of the school year. but will be re-issued the same laptop at the beginning of each new school year throughout their four years of high school. Students who leave the division will also need to return their laptops, as they remain the property of the division.

The division had previously issued its high school students iPads, but beginning in the fall of 2016, began issuing laptops instead. As of September, only high school seniors will still be using iPads, and by the start of the 2019-2020 school year, all high school students will have been transitioned to laptops. The iPads that remain functional may be relocated to the county’s middle schools, where there is currently a 1:1 ratio of iPads to students.

“They [middle school students] can use it in the room so they have a guaranteed device to work on,” Briggs said. “We try to get all the useful life out of the equipment.”

In other business, only one person spoke during the School Board’s second public hearing on its proposed long-range facility plan. Catherine Parker of Smithfield, who has two children enrolled in Hardy Elementary School, urged the School Board to proceed with its plans to renovate the facility.

Susan Goetz, the division’s executive director of elementary education, also informed the School Board of a recent change by the Virginia Department of Education now allowing school divisions to count recess as instructional time. As a result, all elementary schools except for Carrsville will expand their allotted recess time from 20 minutes to 30 minutes per day. Carrsville will remain at 20 minutes for recess to accommodate its new violin program, where students will receive 25 minutes of violin instruction every day.

However, the length of each school day will remain as is, Briggs said. She explained that even though Isle of Wight County Schools was already exceeding the minimum number of required instruction hours, the additional hours gained by counting recess will be added to the division’s “banked time,” which will allow it to close for inclement weather without having to make up days.