Jul 28, 2014
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Should Brick Students Be Given Laptops?

School board promotes one-to-one laptop program

Should Brick Students Be Given Laptops?

In a tech-heavy society, with a tech-heavy job market, Brick students should go to school in a tech-heavy environment, some Board of Education members said this week.

Board member Larry Reid promoted a one-to-one laptop initiative at the school board's pre-agenda meeting Wednesday night, saying top school districts in the state and across the country are issuing laptop computers to students to help them excel at computer applications that will prepare them for college and the business world.

"I think it's something that's required to get a good job," Reid said. "I think if we want to prepare Brick students to enter the job market with the proper tools, we have to have a one-to-one computer initiative."

Reid and several other board members attended a recent workshop where leaders of the Springfield and Pascack Valley school districts in North Jersey were on hand to give presentations about their laptop programs. Reid said officials from those districts said their students were more prepared for advanced studies once they went off to college, and the program made the school districts more attractive regionally.

"Every superintendent said the same thing: if you're not involved with technology in your classroom, you're not getting the maximum return," said board member John Talty, who also attended the presentation.

Board member Len Cuppari said the program is expensive, but worth it.

"I endorse it, but it is expensive," said Cuppari. "There are a lot of things to consider, but I agree with everyone here that we have to move in the direction of technology."

Reid said most districts that issue laptops to students lease computers from a vendor, with Apple being the "vendor of choice" for most districts. Most of the districts that have launched one-to-one laptop programs have started the programs in the middle school grades, then expanded to the high school grades, then to the lower grades. Some districts have used iPads for lower grades and traditional laptops for upper grades, he said. Reid said network infrastructure would have to be built before such a program could be implemented.

Board President Sharon Kight said issues such as security and warranties for the computers are not issues in other districts.

"They have it down to a science," Kight said. "They have all those kinks worked out."

Brick school officials will travel to the Pascack Valley district in Bergen County Dec. 8 to check out their program first-hand. Talty said the board is seeking public input from the community on whether issuing laptops – which could eliminate the need for some physical textbooks – would be a good idea for Brick.

"Hopefully, we'll get some input from the public as to what they're looking for," Talty said.

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