Pencils, pens and paper are typical supplies in a student’s kit, but beginning in the fall, El Campo ISD students will add portable computers to their backpacks. In the upcoming school year, each student will be issued a Chromebook, portable computers made by Google, to use in class and at home.
“Our students deserve it,” ECISD Director of Information Services Turk Krenek said. “It will enhance student learning.”
Myatt Elementary students will not be included in the new one-to-one technology program, but the older ECISD grades will be lent a Chromebook during the school year. Students at Northside Elementary, El Campo Middle School and El Campo High School will be allowed to take home the devices, but will be required to bring back their charged laptops each morning.
“Research has proved that having a device in the hands of the students all day long will encourage collaborations and it increases their development of digital citizenship,” Krenek said.
Hutchins Elementary students currently have their own Chromebooks, while the other schools share about 35 devices per two classes. In the 2020-2021 school year, the district will have 3,250 Chromebooks and about 3,200 students.
Louise ISD does not currently allow students to take home Chromebooks. Fifth, fourth and third grade students have their own device to use in class, while Pre-K through second grade classes share one device per five students.
LISD is getting very close to a one-to-one ratio of students to computers, Technology Director Sandra Holik said.
ECISD Chromebooks were purchased with state funds that the district budgets for technology expenditures. One Chromebook costs ECISD about $200, Krenek said.
“We have been anticipating this move and have been purchasing 600 to 700 Chromebooks per year for the past four years to be used in this project,” Krenek said.
The district applied for a grant from the Texas Education Agency that would fund portable hotspots for students to borrow from the school library if they do not have wifi at home. The district’s grant application is pending.
Cellular carriers estimate that 25 percent of ECISD students do not have access to the Internet at home, Krenek said.
ECISD will use preventative software to ensure that students cannot access inappropriate websites on their computers at home or at school.
“That drives up the cost a little bit, adding that component of software, but it’s something that we have to have,” Krenek said. “There’s no way we can allow it to go home with the students without some sort of protection like that.”