TPSD to continue laptop program

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to continue the district’s participation in its laptop initiative but with a greater focus on student expectations and teacher training.
The initiative provides a district-owned laptop to every sixth- to 12th-grade student in the district to use for educational purposes. Last year was its first year.
Interim Superintendent David Meadows said that the district will do more to teach students how they are expected to care for the machines. The district also will create procedures to prevent the machines from becoming distractions. For instance, it will do more to prohibit students from using them when teachers are lecturing about topics that do not require the MacBooks.
The program will remain the same in that all sixth- to 12th-grade students will be given a computer for the school year. Meadows anticipated that the district will use about 3,800 student MacBooks this year.
“We feel this is one of the best 21st-century learning tools we can have for our students,” Meadows said. “It brings the real world of problem solving to them every day.”
The district will require all students to sign a user agreement this year. That document will be different than the acceptable use policy they had to sign last year. The new policy will give the district greater ability for holding students responsible for the care of their computers.
Last year, 72 computers were damaged beyond repair and 30 have still not be returned. The district is looking into taking legal action against students who have not yet returned their computers, Meadows said.
The district will spend $73,000 to fix its computers and about $275,000 to buy 275 new ones. The extra ones are needed in part because this year’s sixth-grade class is larger than last year’s, Meadows said.
That money is in addition to the $1.2 million the district will spend as part of its four-year contract with Apple to purchase the computers.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com