Money, resources used for Chromebooks would be better spent elsewhere

Abigail Haines, Staff Writer

At the start of this academic year, every student in grades 4-12 received a school-issued Chromebook. In addition, each teacher in the district, classrooms for grades 1-3 and loaner carts were purchased.

According to the Director of Information Technology, Michael Waterman, the distribution of Chromebooks was intended to instill students with “21st century learning skills,” allowing them to graduate as “responsible digital citizens.” There has been great debate as to whether or not the money spent on the Chromebooks was worth it.   In my opinion, the purchase and distribution of Chromebooks was not worth the amount of money spent on them.

The Chromebooks for grades 4-12 are leased for $118,000/year and the laptops for teachers, elementary (grades 1-3) classrooms and loaner carts cost the district $73,000/year.  These costs are a per year cost for four years.  Over the next four years, North Kingstown taxpayers will spend $764,000 on Chromebooks.  

This money could be spent on various other issues facing the district and its students.  One major example of this is the lack of air conditioning in several schools. I believe that installing air conditioning in the high school would be a better investment of the money. It would lead to a better work environment and even improved performance.  

Providing funds to keep after school programs running is yet another place where the money spent on Chromebooks could have been more useful.  The Fine Arts Department is constantly battling to raise funds so that music, drama and art programs can continue to run.  Even just a small fraction of the money spent on Chromebooks could be a big help to the Fine Arts Department.

Additionally, the laptops were intended to replace textbooks, yet many classes still use paper textbooks.  Not only do students now have to carry heavy textbooks, but also their laptops.  

When the Chromebooks are used, there are occasionally technological issues.  It can take longer to get everyone’s laptops working and signed in than the amount of time that students actually use them. Additionally, the school’s WiFi is sometimes down, which makes it difficult for students to use their Chromebooks.  Furthermore, in classrooms for grades 1-3, teachers have to stop class to distribute the laptops. Moreover, since the start of the school year, the laptops have frequently needed to be updated.  At the high school, students have lost class time on several occasions to update their Chromebooks.  With classes every other day, many students utilize every minute of class time they can get and Chromebooks sometimes stand in the way of that.

Lastly, this school year I have noticed more instances of cheating. This is due, in part, to Chromebooks. Many quizzes are given online, on Google Forms. I have heard more of my peers talking about being able to look up questions or answers on their Chromebooks, occasionally without the teacher noticing that anything suspicious is occurring.

Although North Kingstown students are lucky to be provided with Chromebooks, I believe that the large amount of money spent on them would be better used in various other places in the district.