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Ohio School Board Approves Chromebooks Replacement

The Conneaut Area City Schools Board of Education voted to buy new Chromebooks and improve the sound systems at a middle school and high school. Five to 12 laptops each day, out of 1,600 total, need repairs.

Student working on a technology project next to a laptop
(TNS) — The Conneaut Area City Schools Board of Education voted to purchase new Chromebooks and upgrade sound systems at Conneaut High School and Conneaut Middle School at a meeting on Wednesday.

Brian Chase, the district's technology director and systems administrator, spoke to the board about the projects.

He said the district's Chromebooks are aging, and are damaged frequently.

"To put it in perspective, a day, between five and 12 Chromebooks a day, we process and repair ... out of 1,600," Chase said.

The district IT staff tested six potential new Chromebooks.

"When we look at this, replacing these, a big portion of this for me is the support we have behind it, not only the device," Chase said.

He said the Lenovo Chromebooks are what are being recommended because of the support behind them.

"What we're looking at, basically, is second grade on up," Chase said. "As it is right now, kindergarten and first [grade] have tablets, and we're going to stick with those down there. We can squeeze a bit of life out of those yet, and the kids aren't as hard on those at those grade levels."

The cost of the upgrade will be $451,000, Chase said. He said he was able to negotiate the price down about $70,000.

Board President Russ Coltman praised Chase for keeping the Chromebooks working for five years.

District Treasurer Jackie Miranda said this purchase of Chromebooks will use up the last of the district's ESSERS funds, which were distributed by the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chase said the current Chromebooks will be used for one more year, and then the new ones will be introduced the following school year.

The final item was a discussion about presentation systems in the cafeterias and gyms.

Chase said the amps in those sound systems will need to be replaced in every building, and upgrading the sound system at the high school and the middle school would be a significant undertaking, while Gateway and Lakeshore would be somewhat less so.

The project would also include relocating antennas to provide direct lines of sight, and the addition of an additional wireless microphone at each location.

The project will cost $119,000 for all four of the district's buildings. If the project were to be broken into parts, Chase suggested focusing on the high school first, followed by the middle school, then the elementary and primary schools.

Miranda said funding for the sound systems would come from the district's permanent improvement funds.

Chase thanked the board for their support.

"We try to keep this within the rails, that it's fiscally responsible," he said.

The board thanked Chase for his work.

The meeting agenda was modified to approve the new sound systems for the high school and middle school, and purchase new Chromebooks. Both resolutions were approved.

In other business:

  • Carrie Brockway, Lakeshore Primary School principal, updated the board on how things were going at the school.

She said students are becoming more comfortable with their tablets, and they will be taking a diagnostic test in May to measure their growth over the year.

Building staff is working on collecting information that will be submitted to the state for recognition of their PBIS system.

Brockway said a lot of work goes into the submission.

She said a sensory path has been installed at the school.

The path is made up of large decals placed on the walls and the floor, Brockway said.

Students participating in the path follow directions to walk in different ways and perform different actions.

The path is intended to help students calm down if they are upset, she said.

"With all the academic expectations in classrooms, our young students sometimes do need a break," Brockway said. "They need to get up and move, so this is an opportunity for them to get up and do that."

Board member Penny Armeni asked if the use of the path would be recommended by the teacher, and Brockway said yes, and a staff member would take the student to the area.

She said Lakeshore Primary students raised $8,379.32 for the American Heart Association.

The school is currently recognizing Earth Day and Right to Read Week, with a space theme.

"As I'm here today, there's a mobile planetarium in our gym right now, that all the classes get to visit today, and they're talking about the constellations they'll see in the sky, which is pretty cool," Brockway said.

The board approved the tentative list of Conneaut High School graduates for 2024.

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