Batavia School Board members debate purchasing new Chromebooks

BATAVIA – Batavia School District 101 board members Tuesday debated whether to have middle school and high school students pay more in registration fees so the district could purchase additional Google Chromebooks for students.

Board members voted 5-2 to approve the district’s 21st Century Learning Plan, with board members Jon Gaspar and Gregg Hodge voting “no.” The plan calls for the district to provide a personal device to all students within two years. The device for students in kindergarten to second grade has not yet been determined.

The plan calls for a $75 student registration fee increase for grades six to 12 and the upgrade of the district’s wireless network at a cost of $275,000. District staff plans to present a recommendation in May to purchase Chromebooks for students in those grades.

The district’s total cost for this year’s program is $890,020.

Gaspar said he wanted to make sure teachers were properly trained on the Chromebooks.

“I don’t want the devices given and nothing happens and then the training isn’t there,” Gaspar said. “I think it’s a great tool.”

The increase would bring registration fees for Batavia middle school students to $165 a year and to $194 a year for the district’s high school students. Currently, middle school students pay $90 annually in registration fees and high school students pay $119 annually in registration fees.

With the cost of Google Chromebooks at $300 each, a $75 a year increase in fees would pay for half of the device. The Chromebooks have an expected lifespan of two years.

Hodge said he would like to get more public input before making a decision.

“We are looking for 50 percent of this to be funded by the taxpayers,” Hodge said. “I don’t want to see dollars that were intended on fixing buildings to go into a Chromebook.”