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BPS delivers 10,000 Chromebook laptops to schools

Friday, March 21, 2013
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Mayor Walsh visits Mildred Ave. K-8 Ten thousand Chromebooks are arriving for students in the Boston Public Schools this spring. Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Interim Superintendent John McDonough announced the program at the Mildred Avenue K-8 School, where some students became familiar with the low-cost laptops that allow easy access to the internet and Google applications.
“This is the kind of investment that will pay long-term dividends,” said Mayor Walsh. “By providing low-cost computers to our students from elementary to high school, we are preparing them for the future. Watching students this morning at the Mildred, I witnessed the learning potential these laptops hold."
Walsh celebrated with Mildred students and staff the initial delivery of Chromebooks. By the end of April, the district expects to receive a total of 10,000 Chromebooks, a ratio of one laptop for every six students, providing increased computer access for virtually every class in every school. The devices use a simplified operating system that is similar to an internet browser, allowing more students to get online and increase their web research and typing skills.
“The School Committee is focused on closing the opportunity and achievement gaps for all our students,” said Michael O’Neill, Chair of the School Committee. “It is clear that being conversant with technology is critical and the School Committee is pleased that we are working to put the right tools in the hands of our students, both for academic success and for demonstrating success with online testing.”
"Being adept at using a laptop for research and test taking is critical today," said John McDonough, Interim Superintendent. "We want our graduates to have the skill to use a laptop, so that when they go to college or start their career, they can hit the ground running. With these Chromebooks, we are now in the position to offer our students the opportunity to gain that expertise.''
Computer skills are increasingly necessary for success in college and careers, and the opportunity for students to use technology in schools will better prepare BPS graduates to lead productive lives. Most immediately, the Google Chromebooks will aid students in taking the PARCC assessment - a new online assessment that is being piloted in 70 Boston schools starting on March 24. Over the past months, our schools have been getting tech upgrades- more dedicated access points and additional wireless updates- to accommodate this new technology and testing procedure.
Chromebooks use Google, providing a safe online environment. The laptops remain at the schools, but students can save all their work so they can pick up where they left off each time they use one. Students will also have access to their work away from school simply by logging onto their Google account on their home computer or at a public library.
BPS was one of the first school districts in the country to give every teacher a laptop, so our instructors have been working with similar technology for years. Their familiarity makes them suited to immediately incorporate the Chromebooks into their lessons.
The Chromebook project is funded through a lease-purchase loan through City Hall. The City received a loan of $3 million and BPS is responsible for paying the loan across three years. The Office of Instructional and Information Technology (OIIT) at Boston Public Schools is covering half of the payment while schools receiving the Chromebook carts will pay the other half out of their school budget.
An individual school will pay roughly $5000 over three years per classroom set of Chromebooks, a significant discount from the standard price for a classroom set.