Glendale Unified hears proposed financial plan to lease new technology devices

In establishing a technology sustainability plan for the Glendale Unified School District, its chief business and financial officer is recommending school officials use the $3.66 million in one-time funding received in 2017-18 from the state to lease new laptops for teachers for the next three years.

After three years, Stephen Dickinson said during a school board meeting last week the district could depend on the one-time funding by allocating $1.23 million annually.

In a phone interview, Dickinson said the district has received over $3 million annually for the past five years.

If the district’s General Fund is balanced in the near future, he said officials could then shift expenses to that fund as a long-term solution.

In addition, the district will face a one-time cost of $66,000 to purchase wireless projectors.

Dickinson described the technology sustainability plan akin to maintaining a facility or vehicle, saying it will always require upgrades and could result in “a huge bill” in the future if left ignored.

Board member Jennifer Freemon asked district staff to look into how other districts are successfully maintaining their technology.

Concerned with a potential ongoing cost of $1.23 million, Greg Krikorian, board vice president, heeded caution because the district could face a structural deficit.

He asked staff to inform board members about the possibility of long-term financial impacts and could that affect student achievement through “ripple effects.”

Dickinson said the school board is expected to take action on a combination of items during its Oct. 3 meeting. Board members are scheduled to decide whether to approve the one-time purchase for equipment and authorizing a lease with a contractor for teacher laptops.

In August, Frank Schlueter, district director of educational technology and information services, suggested leasing teacher laptops as part of the district’s technology sustainability plan.

He also informed board members that of the 10,000 Chromebooks in the district, some devices are reaching their four-year life expectancy. About 2,167 replacements are needed annually, according to district documents, and each Chromebook costs $302, totaling $654,333 per year.

In previous years, Schlueter said it was never clear when teachers would receive new computers. Before voters approved Measure S in 2011, several teachers had computers that were 10 years old and had become obsolete.

During a pilot test program with 22 district staff members, a survey indicated 16 staffers preferred the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370, which functions as a computer, tablet and has a touch screen with a built-in stylus.

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