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BASD plans for $1.29 million cycling of student laptops

BASD Chromebook
Bethlehem Area School District will vote Feb. 26 on the purchase of 2,500 new Chromebooks for its kindergartners, fifth graders and ninth graders.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — New laptop computers could be on the way for incoming kindergartners, fifth- and ninth-graders in Bethlehem Area School District.

The school board looks to take action on Feb. 26 regarding the $1,291,075 purchase of 2,500 Google Chromebooks, including styluses and chargers for each device.

It's an annual purchase that was accounted for in the 2023-24 school year budget, according to BASD Chief Financial Officer Harry Aristakesian.

This is an expected purchase that ensures consistent turnover of equipment according to the school district's budget, while also allowing for consistent system updates for student devices across the board.
Bethlehem Area School District

“This planned lifecycle allows for a consistent cadence of purchasing each year for budgetary purposes,” the school district Finance Committee meeting agenda from Monday reads.

“Further, it ensures that the Chromebook is within the timeframe where it will receive regular operating system updates from Google and function within the Chrome Education upgrade and Chrome Enterprise upgrade.”

As part of BASD’s “Empower 1:1 Take Home Technology Initiative,” Pre-K through 12th grade students are loaned a Chromebook and appropriate accessories for accessing “blended, anywhere, anytime learning resources.”

Insurance, internet access

District officials recognize the equipment as similar to other class materials, such as pencils, pens and textbooks, so students are expected to bring them to school each day, an Empower Frequently Asked Questions page reads.

Students aren’t allowed to opt out of the program, according to BASD.

Parents and guardians are deemed responsible to pay for any repairs or replacements to the devices relative to the guidelines.

There's also insurance available for potential reimbursement of some types of repairs billed by BASD.

For students with no internet access outside of school, there are options.

Since the Affordable Connectivity Program applications closed on Feb. 7, BASD recommends consulting your school for a mobile hotspot or seeking out other local wireless access locations.