Decatur Spending $1 Million on Laptops for Middle School Students

Decatur City Schools [in Alabama] plan to spend more than $1 million over the next three years to replace laptop computers the district provides for all its middle school students.

"We're going to lease about 2,100 computers for students in grades 6-8," said technology supervisor Kathy Rains.

Decatur City Schools will pay $363,000 annually for three years for the laptops, said Chief Financial Officer Melanie Maples.

At the end of the lease, the amount of money the district will have spent will be less than the $1.4 million Decatur City Schools spent when it purchased computers for every student, according to officials.

School board members said they approved the expenditure because they remain committed to putting technology in the hands of every student.

"This is what our students require," board member Michele Gray King said.

The district's one-to-one initiative of putting laptops in the hands of every middle school student started in 2011. It continued in 2013 when the school board voted to spend $1.7 million for computers, servers and workstation upgrades. Decatur's technology budget is $1 million more than the district spent a decade ago.

Rains said technology changes constantly, requiring the district to make significant investments. She said the laptops, which will be available when students return in August, will run on Windows 10, have touchscreens and can be folded to use like a tablet.

Decatur City Schools has about 6,000 computers available for students, but the system also has a bring-your-own-device policy, which allows students to use their own computers at school and connect to the district's wireless network.

After adding a program that allows students in grades 5-12 to check out computers, Decatur City Schools was ranked first in the nation for...

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