School district looks at decreasing cost for classroom technology

Kodiak school board. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough School District is trying to reduce the amount of money it spends on the renewal and replacement of classroom devices.

That’s according to computer technician Walter Barnes, who presented to the board of education at its work session Monday night.

He said the past purchases the school district has made from Apple for its products and services have been expensive.

The cost peaked in fiscal year 2014 when the district bought a new round of iPads to accommodate Apple’s changes to its app store, but Barnes said the district usually replace about 20 percent of its technology yearly.

“On average, we’re spending just shy of $800,000 a year on classroom devices and, to pay for it, we’ve been using fund balances to be able to make sure that our devices are up to date and trying to get that 20 percent every year.”

They’re open to considering other products, and Barnes said staff would prefer to stick to one model once the school district chooses one.

That helps them train employees to one platform instead of multiple, and it helps with software management – for instance, installing a program is the same across all devices.

Another consideration is students’ familiarity with the product. The switch from a laptop to a tablet, for example, could throw them off.

School board president Bob Foy saw the upside to such a transition.

“Learning to adapt to a new environment is not necessarily a bad thing these days with technology changing as fast as it does, and really I think that’s what we’re trying to educate our kids – to be able to succeed in this technological world. You don’t have to have the best and the newest for it to succeed, but it will change, so maybe that’s a good thing.”

It’s the beginning of the discussion. School district superintendent Larry LeDoux said staff should work with teachers and answer all the questions out there before moving forward on a purchasing order.

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