By Linda Dillman
Keeping current with technology and enabling students to stay connected while working at home on hybridized lessons is falling on the shoulders and financial resources of school districts like Hamilton Local.
Not every student has access to the latest system and with schools either exclusively online or a combination of online and in the classroom, the responsibility for that connectivity is resulting in the purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars in electronic devices.
“We have purchased nearly 1,000 new Chromebooks and are awaiting their delivery,” said Vince Payne, Hamilton’s Director of Public Relations. “Many school districts ordered Chromebooks at the same time, and we are eagerly awaiting their arrival so we can get them out for student use. When we get the new Chromebooks we have ordered, we will be a true one-to-one technology district and each student will have a Chromebook to use as an educational resource.”
During the Sept. 14 Hamilton Local Board of Education meeting, the board approved the purchase of 233 student Chromebooks at an individual base cost of $588, licenses and service with funding from a $143,675 Broadband Connectivity grant.
Payne said Hamilton Local needs computing devices and home Internet connectivity during COVID-19 remote learning and beyond. Having devices with LTE connectivity accomplishes both.
Working with local Internet connectivity partners and intentional budgeting, he said the district is in a better position to coordinate and pay for data service than it is for the devices.
Broadband-enabled devices with a direct Internet connection provide practical and efficient use of Hamilton Local’s grant award, especially for an extremely large population of economically disadvantaged students, homeless students and those with chronic conditions.
“Prior to this school year, we purchased Chromebooks using a combination of grants and General Fund resources,” said Payne. “This year, we were able to utilize funding from a combination of the CARES Act, i3 Grant, and the Broadband Connectivity Grant to purchase nearly 1,000 new Chromebooks. Seven-hundred Chromebooks were purchased using CARES Act and Grant funds and 233 Chromebooks were purchased using the Broadband Connectivity Grant.”
•Treasurer Adam Collier’s contract was extended for five more years, from Aug. 1, 2021 through July 31, 2026. He was first hired as the district’s treasurer in 2004 and his current salary is $32,414. He will receive a 1 percent salary increase next year.
•A new policy regarding face mask use was adopted by the board and Payne said the first day of in-building classes under new COVID-19 restrictions went “perfectly.”
“Everyone wore their masks with no problem at all, and all distancing guidelines were followed,” said Payne. “Our students are very good when it comes to following rules and guidelines, and they have always been very respectful of each other and everyone in the building. We aren’t surprised by their behavior.”
He said parents are supportive of teaching staff and employees and many shouted, ‘You’re doing great’ and ‘We appreciate all you are doing’ as they drove onto school grounds.
“It made everyone feel good about all the hard work that is going into educating children and keeping everyone safe throughout this pandemic,” said Payne.