Montgomery Schools to Buy 40,000 Laptops and Tablets in Technology Initiative
A $15 million technology initiative in Montgomery County schools will have 40,000 laptops and tablets headed to the county’s students this school year.
On July 15, Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr and school system staff will brief the Montgomery County Board of Education on the technology plan, which includes the deployment of 40,000 laptops and tablets in all schools. Students in Grades 3, 5, and 6, as well as those in high school social studies classes, will begin using the technology in the classroom this coming school year. The initiative will expand in the following years.
“Our community has been asking MCPS to make more technology available in the classroom, and I am excited to begin ramping up our efforts to provide students with 21st century learning spaces,” Dr. Starr said in a press release. “This technology initiative will enhance teaching and learning and provide our educators with the tools they need to engage students and individualize instruction to meet their needs.”
The devices will first be provided to students in 67 schools that are part of the district’s Technology Modernization—or Tech Mod—program in the capital budget. The remaining schools will receive the devices throughout the year, according to a school system press release. During the 2014–2015 school year, 30,000 devices will be provided to elementary and middle schools for use by students in grades 3, 5, and 6, and 10,000 devices will be provided to high schools for use in social studies classes. As the plan is rolled out, students in grades 3 through 12 will primarily use Chromebook laptops, while students in kindergarten through grade 2 will use Android-based tablets. The initiative will use Google Apps for Education as the secure, cloud-based platform that will provide students and teachers with a wide array of tools and web-based communication and collaboration applications.
The devices are being purchased through two consortia that allow school districts to take advantage of lower purchase prices for technology. After receiving bids from six of the vendors, MCPS is recommending a $15.03 million bid from CDW Government LLC. The school board is expected to authorize the purchase on Tuesday. Funding to purchase the devices is included in the fiscal year 2015 operating budget and the six-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP), both of which were approved by the Montgomery County Council in May. Additional funding will be provided through the Federal Education Rate (E-Rate) program, which provides money to help schools increase access to the Internet and technology.
Nine county schools piloted the use of mobile technology and cloud-based learning platforms during the 2013–2014 school year.