SLVUSD Personally Owned Laptop Initiative
In preparing students for college and career, computers have become an essential educational tool. In order to be college and career ready, students must have immediate access and use of a computer in classroom lessons and studies at home. Students will use laptop computers for lessons, research, composition, interactive tutorials, access to reading materials, assessments and collaboration.
Our goal is for every student to have their own personal computer throughout the school day and at home. The first day of school in the Fall of 2015 is when we hope all students 6th - 12th grade have their own laptop to bring to school.
Most laptops purchased in the last 3 years will meet the requirements below, but please do check. Battery life is important and recent laptops have far better battery life than their predecessors.
- 6+ hour battery life: Plugging in a laptop to recharge at school isn't practical given the few power outlets and the tripping hazard of power cords extended from outlets.
- Boots fast, under 30 seconds. Chromebooks boot in 10 seconds. When using a laptop in class, the laptop needs to be able to wake up or boot quickly.
- Quiet: Loud fan noises coming from a laptop is inappropriate in a classroom. Many new laptops, like Chromebooks, have no built-in fans.
- Keyboard: typing on a real, non-glass, keyboard fits the needs of school work better than tablet or thumb typing.
Chromebooks are an excellent value and meet all of the requirements above for about $200. Other laptops running Windows or MacBooks are also excellent choices and may meet your specific application needs better, but they are also more expensive.
Regarding security, Chromebooks are more secure than Windows or Mac computers. Chromebooks are based on a stripped down Linux OS with built-in boot checks and very few executables to attack. There's not a lot there to attack and what is there is protected with in-depth defenses.
The most expressed concern regarding this 1:1 initiative from teachers, administrators and parents is equity. They worry that not every student has a laptop and can access the Internet from home.
- The district can't afford to buy every student a Chromebook. A workable district funding model is if at least 70% of the parents can buy their student a Chromebook. Between parent clubs and the district, we will figure out how to supply a Chromebook to the remaining 20-30% of the students who can't afford it.
- Contribute: We'll soon have a link for parents to contribute to a fund that will be used for no other purpose than to buy Chromebooks for students who can't afford it.
- We'll also have 3-5 Chromebooks in each class as in-class loaners for students who don't have their Chromebook on that day.
- Teachers are committed to having alternative ways for students to complete homework if for whatever reason a student doesn't have a Chromebook or Internet access at home.
- Internet for $10 a month: We promote and try to assist families in getting Comcast Internet Essentials. The requirements below are very specific, please read carefully. If you meet these requirement, please apply. If you have any issues contact us and we'll help.
- Be located where Comcast offers service.
- Have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.
- Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days.
- Does not have outstanding Comcast debt that is under one year old.
- If Comcast isn't responsive, please contact Cathy Frost for assistance. Email or phone: 335-5384.
Chromebooks are a simple laptop designed for browser use. That said, there are few settings and personalization options. Below are links to articles about settings and personalization.
Digital Citizenship - Family Resources
Common Sense Media is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. Common Sense Media empowers parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.
Parent Survey Results, December 2014
- 77% of the parents responded.
- 94% have Internet at home
- 10-14% expressed interest in the $10/month Comcast Internet Essentials program.
- 35% own a laptop, 46% said they would buy a Chromebook, 25% were interested in assistance buying a Chromebook, 7% answered no to all of the laptop/Chromebook questions.
Suggestions or Comments?
Please email comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All emails will be available for reading and consideration by our EduTech committee.
Buying a Chromebook
Buying Chromebooks on Amazon using the links below donates 2% of the purchase price to a SLV parent organization dedicated to helping our district's students.
Below is a sample of Chromebooks rated well on Amazon, lowest price first. There's no district discount program for buying Chromebooks. For some reason no one can explain, buying Chromebooks in bulk quantities actually costs more per Chromebook.
- Insurance is usually offered by the vendor when purchasing a Chromebook. The insurance offer should be evaluated on what exactly it covers for the cost. We have no blanket recommendation about insurance.
- Chromebook shell cases may offer some protection.
- Chromebook sleeves may also offer some protection.
Chromebook is not the Right Choice if...
- Chromebooks are not the right choice for your student if you know they need advanced (and expensive) applications like Adobe Photoshop or specific programming environments meant for Windows and/or Mac's. In this case, your student will let you know what kind of computer they want you to buy them.
District Network and Security
- The district's 5 schools (BCE, SLVE, SLVMS, SLVHS, Charter) share a 1 gigabit Internet connection. This 1Gb connection is generally considered to be enough and it meets our needs.
- All schools are connected with 1Gb links.
- All school network segments connect into a Palo Alto Networks PA-3050. The PA-3050 is our firewall and has excellent threat visibility into every network segment.
- All 125 classrooms in the district each have a Meraki/Cisco wireless access point (WAP). These WAP's were chosen to support high density wireless computer use. All of the WAP's have 1Gb connections over CAT6 cables to Cisco PoE switches, which in turn have 1Gb connections over fiber back to each school's network distribution frame.
- URL filtering is excellent and happens in-line on the PA-3050 and is updated every night.
- We no longer store anyone's social security numbers. They are not here to steal. We also do not store any credit card numbers.
- Whenever possible, any source of confidential information stored at the schools or district is actively eliminated or removed from network connectivity.
Student Technology Acceptable Use Policy
Please keep in mind some of these policies are out of date and being updated.
- Click here for the Student Use of Technology - Board Policy 6134.4.
- Click here for the Student Use of Technology - Administrative Regulations - 6163.4
- Click here for the Student Use of Technology Exhibit or Form - 6163.4
FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions
- What if my student doesn't bring a laptop to school?
- Regarding students who come to school without a laptop, we will have backup loaner laptops available for in-classroom use. We also have extended library hours before and after school for students who need time on a computer. Teachers will also make assignments available in paper form for those with no computer/Internet access at home. That being said, we encourage every student to have a laptop. Chromebooks are an excellent value at about $200 and many vendors offer insurance to cover damage and theft.
- Are laptops going to be used everyday in all of the classes?
- No. The laptop is one of many resources available to teachers and students. Classroom instruction and activities work best when there is a variety in the types and kinds of learning available. However, access to technology is a basic educational tool for the 21st century classroom. Having laptops available on-demand is now part of meeting the needs of student learning.
- Does the school/district pay for a student's laptop stolen or damaged at school?
- No. Student laptops are like other personal property brought to school by a student. However, we highly recommend that parents consider insurance coverage offered when purchasing the Chromebook or laptop. Insurance coverage should be evaluated based on the cost and coverage provided for loss and damage.
- The Middle School PE lockers are too small to fit in a backpack and theft can be problem, how can this be addressed?
- This Summer new, bigger PE lockers will be installed that accommodate backpacks, clothes and laptops.
- What about families that can't afford laptops?
- If a family cannot afford a laptop, the district will offer financial assistance. Any student on Free or Reduced Lunch is eligible to buy a Chromebook from the district for a discounted price to be determined soon. The procedures to apply for a discounted price will be on our website. If your student(s) are not on Free or Reduced Lunch, please apply here. If you have any questions or difficulty applying, please call Cathy Frost at 335-5384 or drop by the Cafeteria anytime between 7 am-3 pm.
- Are families required to buy a laptop or Chromebook for their student?
- No. We strongly encourage families to buy a $200 Chromebook or laptop for their students. However, this is a recommendation, not a requirement. We are committed to providing an education that leads to the best opportunities for our students. We can't afford to buy every student a $200 Chromebook. We can't afford to hire an IT staff to manage and support over 2000 student Chromebooks. We believe personal student ownership of a laptop is the only practical way for this initiative to work.