In The Classroom

HISD proposal would give high school students laptops

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Houston Independent School District is considering giving laptops to high school students at all 18 of its schools. Students would be able to take the laptops home.

The typical classroom scene may soon be outdated. HISD officials are proposing purchasing take-home laptops next year for all 27,000 high schoolers in the district.

"They'll be more interactive now. Back in the day, we had to write everything down and we'd just get bored with it," college student Ryan Whightman said.

HISD has been claiming budget struggles for years. The district just passed a record $1.89 billion bond last year. So can the district afford the estimated $10 million laptop program?

"We're not intending to bring this as an additional line item to the general operating budget," said Lenny Schad, HISD's chief technology officer.

Schad claims the laptop program will pay for itself by getting rid of textbooks and other expenses.

Nearby Katy ISD asks students to bring their own electronic devices but Schad says that wouldn't work at HISD, which serves more underprivileged students.

"We're looking at a majority of our kids not being able to bring a device in. We felt it was important for us to provide that device and take equity out of the equation," Schad said.

HISD officials recently toured the Klein school district. The much smaller district has spent $15 million on its tablet/PC program since it was started in 2006. Students there also have to pay a $75 annual fee.

"Not only is it a savings as far as textbook purchases are concerned, but the content on the textbooks is able to be updated and the textbook is no longer a flat document, but assessment is built into that," said Ann McMullan with Klein ISD.

HISD is exploring insurance options in cases where a laptop breaks or is lost. The district is expected to make a decision this summer.

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