The Hays USD 489 School Board voted to spend $22,543 for a pilot program studying Google Chromebooks in the classroom in its first meeting of the 2018-19 school year Monday night.
Board member Sophia Young was the lone vote against the study, citing concerns about switching the district to Google Suite from Microsoft Office if the district considers Chromebooks for further student device upgrades.
“I’m not fully convinced that this will save money in the long run and I’m not completely convinced that it would improve student performance,” she said.
She said her employer, Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, switched to Google Suite before she started working there and is still going through the transition.
“I just want to be aware that this could be a bigger beast than just a little study,” she said.
Superintendent John Thissen said Young’s concerns were in line with those expressed by district teachers and staff.
“There was more of a discussion of Google transition than there was Chromebook transition,” he said.
The pilot program will begin in the fall, with at least three teachers needing to quickly undergo training. The online training will cost $3,543.
Fifteen Chromebooks will be purchased for The Learning Center at a cost of $240 each. Twenty-five touch-screen Chromebooks will be purchased for the elementary level and 30 for the middle school at a cost of $280 each. The elementary and middle school classrooms that will use them have not yet been identified, Thissen said.
The cost for each device includes a $25 setup fee and protective case.
In comparison, the district purchased 850 Dell Latitudes with similar specifications for the high school in May at $350 each.