Monday, September 22, 2014
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Mission Schools to spend $1.8M on Google Chromebooks, wireless upgrades

20130614 Samsung ChromebookMISSION—With a vision to provide all Mission CISD ninth graders and K.White Jr. High sixth graders a Google Chromebook, the school board recently approved the 1 to 1 Technology Pilot Project. The Chromebooks will provide students access to digital textbooks, and can be used for note taking and completing assignments.

The total cost of the shift to Chromebooks is estimated at just over $1.8 million, including the devices and the technology upgrades needed to provide wireless access at the three campuses affected.

The Google Chromebook is a new device based off of the Google’s “cloud” operating system, which allows students to access documents anywhere at any time, according to Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Operations Lucio Mendoza.

Mendoza explained at the May Finance Committee Meeting that the Google Chromebook has a keyboard, resembles a laptop, and is also inexpensive in comparison to Androids and iPads. He added the district had used Androids in the past, but said there were issues.

“Some of the other districts, they have gone 1 to 1…they’ve gone with iPads and some have used Androids,” Mendoza said. “We had issues with (purchasing) the iPad because it’s much more expensive. If you want a student to use the iPad to type a document in the classroom then they need an extra keyboard.”

One of the main concerns for purchasing iPads was the cost of additional items, including a keyboard attachment. Mendoza said the Chromebook would be inexpensive in comparison to the iPad, and the district would not have to worry about additional software.

“The Chromebooks are at a half of what the iPads would cost,” Mendoza said.

According to Mendoza, the purchase price is $462,150 for around 1500 computers for all freshmen students and K.White sixth graders. The light laptop would have a Google Chrome operating system.

To access any applications on the Chromebook, the campuses need to be equipped with the necessary technology to accommodate the Google Chrome operating system.

A funding program called E-Rate 15 was started in July, 2012 according to the MCISD Board Agenda. The funding assists school districts in discounts of up to 90 percent for purchases of equipment that receive data communications, voice or video.

The district would need to equip Mission High School, Veterans Memorial High School, Mission Collegiate High School and K. White Jr. High with a network infrastructure upgrade to handle the Chromebooks.

The district is planning to install one wireless access point in every classroom, library, hallway and in spots throughout the campus. This will provide campus-wide wireless connection for future mobile technologies.

At the MCISD Finance Committee meeting in June, the total amount to upgrade the network infrastructure at each campus was discussed. A total of $1,087,582 is needed for network infrastructure, and the cost for Dell Wireless at all of the required campuses is $302,713, bringing the total to nearly $1.4 million in technology upgrades for the district.

The school district hopes to receive funding for the upgrade through the E-Rate program, but there are no guarantees the district will be approved or at what percentage.

“The problem has been because the process that E-Rate goes through, we haven’t been approved for the funding,” Mendoza said.

The board approved the purchase with hopes the E-Rate program will reimburse the district for a portion of the project.

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