3 grade levels at Holley will have laptops this school year
9th-graders get to take the computers home
Photos by Tom Rivers
HOLLEY – Jim DiSessa, a Holley business and computer teacher, assists freshman Trent Wright with logging onto a laptop that will be assigned to Trent his next four years of high school.
Holley is making laptops available this school year to students in first, fifth and ninth grades. The district plans to phase in the laptops over the next four years, each time introducing them to first-, fifth- and ninth-graders. Ninth-graders can take them home while first- and fifth-graders use them only at school.
“I think it’s great,” DiSessa said. “The students can work from anywhere and go at their own pace. It will help get them career and college ready.”
The laptops and software are being paid for with money from the state through the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014. The state approved about $540,000 in the first phase of Holley’s technology upgrades through the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014.
Holley has $1,311,463 in state funds through Smart Schools. The district was notified in July that it approved Holley’s plan to offer touch-screen laptop computers to about 225 students in grades 1, 5 and 9.
Holley also will replace SMART boards with 33 touch-screen flat panels that are “Smart TVs.” The $540,000 also will allow Holley to upgrade existing security cameras and add more of them, as well as updating software for the cameras.
Holley still has nearly $800,000 left in the Smart Schools money. If the state approves another phase of laptops, Holley could accelerate its schedule for laptops for students, said Brian Bartalo, district superintendent.
The plan now is to do three grade levels – 1, 5, and 9 – each of the next four years.
Students and their parents signed a user agreement, which includes $25 insurance each year. That covers accidental damage, theft (with a police report), and electrical surge damage. Replacing a damaged laptop costs $650.
Students are to use the laptops in a way consistent with the district’s Code of Conduct. Each laptop contains the district’s filtering software.
Holley teachers were trained over the summer on how to use the laptops in the classroom.
Brian Bartalo, the district superintendent, was pleased to see the excitement from students and their families during the open house and computer distribution.
“It really levels the playing field,” he said.
The district will be surveying to see which students don’t have internet access at home and will try to find a solution. Bartalo said most of the coursework can be downloaded at school and students can then work on it at home on their computers, even if they don’t have internet access.