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Replacing Lost, Damaged Devices to Cost Atlanta Schools $3.5M

With 11 percent of devices distributed to students not being returned, Atlanta Public Schools approved one-time funds to replace them and plans to incorporate a replacement strategy into the annual budgeting process.

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(TNS) — Atlanta Public Schools expects to spend $3.5 million replacing laptop computers and other devices that students lost or damaged.

The school board approved the expense this week. APS estimates about 11 percent of the more than 40,000 devices previously distributed to students were not returned by the end of last school year or early this year.

The district provides iPads to all prekindergarten and kindergarten students and hands out Chromebook computers to all students in first through 12th grades. That technology became increasingly important when classes moved online in 2020 after COVID-19 started to spread.

Students returned about 37,525 devices in May, at the end of last school year, according to APS. The district said 5,765 devices and 17,636 chargers were not returned before the current school year began. Since then, APS said it has collected 1,003 more devices.

That leaves 4,762 devices that have not been turned in.

“There are ongoing efforts to continue the collection of unreturned devices,” APS said in an statement.

Several hundred other Verizon devices are being repaired, the district reported.

“We are requesting $3.5 million in one-time funding to replenish the damaged and unreturned devices for this fiscal year and going forward a replacement strategy will be built into the annual budget planning process,” Chief Financial Officer Lisa Bracken told board members this week.

APS will dip into its fund reserves to cover that cost. The district estimates it will have about $236.3 million in rainy day funds remaining when this fiscal year ends June 30.

Families are required to notify the district if a device is lost or stolen and provide a police report, APS said.

The school system’s insurance will cover stolen devices and those that have been accidentally damaged, so long as families provide a police report to help APS file a claim. Insurance does not cover lost devices or those that have been intentionally damaged.

A district policy also allows APS to charge students for the cost to repair or replace technology equipment “due to loss or abuse” of equipment.

©2022 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.