Platte County R-3 expanding Chromebook program to middle schools

The Platte County R-3 School District plans to expand its “one-to-one” technology program to the middle school level next school year.

During the Thursday, May 18 board of education meeting, members unanimously voted to allow district officials the ability to expend more than $100,000 to lease Google Chromebooks for all students in sixth through eighth grades. Last year, the district began leasing Chromebooks for high school students and purchased the tablets for staff members in the first phase of the program.

This year’s expenditure will again be dependent on finding available money in the budget, but Platte County superintendent Dr. Mike Reik said the additional Chromebooks allow the district to scale expenses in permanent computer hardware.

The board voted 6-0 with member Gary Brown absent to award the pending contract to Firefly Computers at an annual cost of $108,689.25. Pricing is based on annual lease estimates over a three-year term, including the device, Google management licensing and “white-glove” services for initial product setup.

In 2016, the district purchased 470 Chromebooks for staff and deployed 1,200 more at the high school through a similar lease agreement.

Platte County chose the Chromebooks in a trial of three different devices conducted ahead of the 2016-17 budgeting process. High school staff members were already working with the tablets in an effort to prepare for their utilization with students. 

The purchases in 2016 supplied a Chromebook to staff in third through eighth grades in an effort to prepare them for the budgeted expansion of one-to-one technology in the coming years.

Each student is assigned a tablet that is checked in at the end of each year. Students receive the same device back the following year as applicable.

A $40 per year fee for insurance coverage is required for each student, who would also be responsible for the deductible for replacement or damage repairs. The district has utilized options to help those who might not be able to afford the insurance, including small payment plans that could be made throughout the course of the school year.

Insurance must be paid for the student to take the device home.