School district needs $4 million for new Chromebooks, Wi-Fi networks

Distance learning, 2,400 unreturned laptops creates financial demand ahead of schoolyear

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CLAY COUNTY – Chromebooks are more important now than ever for classrooms and homes around the school district.

When COVID-19 prompted the 2019-20 school year to finish its last few months from home back in March, the Clay County School District worked fast to ensure every student in need of a Chromebook got one. This not only included the actual district-issued laptop, but internet access as well. More than 16,000 Chromebooks were doled out during the final weeks of March so students could return to some semblance of educational normalcy in April.

“It’s important that our students still get their education,” Broskie said in March. “We’re treating the start of this like a new school year. There will be things to work out and plenty of questions, but we’ll all get through this together.”

The new school year is just a week away. And while some students will be returning to campus, others will continue their education using the Chromebook. Approximately 22% of the CCSD student population has expressed interest in distance learning of the district’s entire total of 39,000 students. Each one of these students will need some sort of internet-connected device like a Chromebook to complete the year.

Chromebooks are also used by students in existing classrooms as well.

The CCSD received about 85% of its Chromebooks it gave away earlier this year ahead of the upcoming school year. Roughly 15% – or 2,400 Chromebooks – have not yet been returned. The district is working not only to get Chromebooks and internet hot spots to students in need before school starts on Aug. 25, but it’s working to order more so that the demand can be met.

“The district will be able to accommodate all projected numbers of distance learning students who ask for a Chromebook,” the district said. “Ideally, the district would like to order enough to go one-to-one.”

The district is looking at approximately $4 million in costs to purchase the Chromebooks and hotspots which are needed to meet the demand.

Teachers are already back in classrooms. Distance learning also will begin on Aug. 25.

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