In accordance with the Jefferson Board of Education’s technological initiative, Superintendent Patrick Tierney along with the administration at both JTMS and JTHS, started implementing a 1-to-1 laptop program for all students. They ran a test pilot when the students returned from winter break, handing out laptops to all of the eighth and ninth graders.
Tierney saw this as the way of the future and the next step to aiding in the educational and learning development of all students as the necessity for computer skills in the 21st century grows. “Many other school districts around the country have already implemented this program or are in the process of implementing it,” Tierney stated. “My job is to make sure Jefferson stays ahead of the curve and provide the best opportunities for students to be the best they can be, and this is the next step in that process.”
Two weeks after the first giveaway of these laptops, JTHS Principal Timothy Plotts reported that “we are now in the single digits for those who still need to receive one.” Although some parents take issue with this mandatory program, Tierney and Plotts see it differently. “Much like a textbook, we provide the laptops for free, but if the student damages or loses it, they have to pay to fix or replace it.”
Some parents were concerned about giving such an expensive piece of equipment to their children, but Tierney believes that “if we don’t treat our students like young adults and give them the expectations of a young adult, then we’re not doing our job to help them mature and grow. We can’t just baby them. Besides, nearly everyone carries a piece of equipment just as expensive as these laptops in their pocket. Most of them already have the maturity and responsibility of protecting these devices from damage or losing them. If parents are truly concerned, they can get a cover for their laptop, and most backpacks nowadays come with padded protection to safely transport laptops.”
Even though some students may have their own laptops, the school will provide one to every student to keep the operating system consistent and make it easier to prevent against malware. The laptops also need to be consistent for PARCC or any other online testing in order for the process to run smoothly.
The district minimizes the potential risk that some of these parents fear as well. They offer an insurance plan that protects against accidental damage, liquid submersion, cracked screen, theft, fire and flood, and other natural disasters. This insurance plan costs $50 per year per laptop and $25 for half a year. Families who struggle financially can receive a fee waiver if they are on a free or reduced lunch program.
The pilot launch will extend to the rest of JTMS and JTHS within the coming months. They plan to administer laptops to tenth graders by the end of January, to juniors around mid-February, and to the sixth and seventh graders by March. Tierney emphasized that this is a pilot program and that they will adjust to any other issues as they pop up, but he stressed that it is important that “we don’t live in fear of change. We need to keep moving forward.”