North Adams Public Schools plan to buy 500 new computers

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NORTH ADAMS — In a move to bolster student and faculty access to technology, North Adams Public Schools plans to purchase 500 new computers.

The HP laptops, purchased or leased with $97,000 withdrawn from the district's school choice reserve account, will put Greylock and Brayton elementary schools on par with the technology at the newly opened Colegrove Park Elementary School.

"We've changed the face of what we're doing with technology, and a lot of it had to do with the opening of Colegrove," said Superintendent James Montepare.

The transfer from the school choice account, which will be left with a balance of about $752,000, was approved unanimously by the School Committee last week.

The plan is to purchase or lease to purchase the computers and have them in place by the start of the next school year.

About 140 of the 500 computers will refresh teachers' current technology, while the remaining 360 will be used directly by students.

The decision whether to purchase or lease has not yet been made; if the district leases the computers, it will own them after three years, for a total cost of $97,000.

But the district, if the cost fits within the budget, may use additional funds to purchase the computers outright.

Currently, all three elementary schools have 60 iPads between the kindergarten and first-grade classes. Brayton and Greylock have also been involved in adding document camera projections.

"The only thing that we have left for the technology aspect is laptops," said Nancy Ziter, the district's business manager. "What we had done at Colegrove Park is second through fifth [grades]; there's five in each classroom and carts of 20 to share between the grades."

The district expanded the laptops into Colegrove's sixth and seventh grades, with two technology labs as well.

The purchase will allow all of the schools to reach Colegrove's level of technology integration, according to district administrators.

As part of the transition, about 245 of the Acer laptops currently used in the elementary schools will be sent to Drury High School. Desktops and iPads have also recently been purchased for the high school.

Montepare, echoing comments he's made throughout recent years, stressed that technology should be embedded in classrooms and not left in a central location like a computer lab that students are brought to.

He suggested that in the future, the acquisition of new technology be planned and budgeted for on an annual basis, instead of relying on purchases when the technology becomes outdated.

"In the next three years, I hope we'll see a huge surge in the ability to provide access one-on-one [to technology] to all of our students," Montepare said.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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