Glendale school officials hear plans to replace and maintain aging technology

Plans to replace aging computers and develop a technology replacement plan are underway in the Glendale Unified School District.

Frank Schlueter, district director of educational technology and information services, provided board members with an update on the technology replacement plan during a school board meeting earlier this month. He discussed leasing teacher laptops as well as maintaining Chromebooks and staff computers.

“We’re looking at a five-year life cycle,” Schlueter said. “By putting it in the budget at the end of five years, we can roll into another replacement. That will ensure teachers will have an appropriate tool.”

In past years, he said there was “always an unknown” about when teachers would receive new computers. Before Measure S, which was passed by voters in 2011, several teachers would have computers that were 10 years old and had become obsolete.

To find a computer model to purchase, 22 district staff members were surveyed about which features would be the most important to them for the next five years. Some of the suggested features included better battery life, touch-screen capabilities and wireless streaming to a projector.

Based on survey results, the district compiled six devices to test: Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Apple iPad Pro, Apple Macbook Air, Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370, Dell Latitude 5289 and the HP Elitebook x360.

At the end of the pilot, the survey indicated 16 out of 22 participants preferred the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370. It can function as a computer, tablet and has a touch screen with a built-in stylus.

Schlueter said the Lenovo is the most economically sustainable compared to a Dell, which is more expensive and has a smaller screen, or an HP, which has limited damage protection.

Also, if a Lenovo breaks, it will be replaced, he said.

For students, the district currently has about 10,000 Chromebooks, with some devices nearing their four-year life expectancy. About 2,167 replacements are needed annually, according to district documents.

Each Chromebook costs $302, totaling $654,333 per year. There is a 3-to-1 student-to-Chromebook ratio.

To sustain the technology the district already has — in addition to leasing 1,200 Lenovo laptops and providing teachers with a transmitter and receiver to wirelessly project lessons — Schlueter said school officials would have to budget $1.2 million annually.

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