Columbia School Board to lease new laptops to high school students

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COLUMBIA - All high school students in Columbia will have new laptops for schoolwork.

The Columbia School Board approved a four-year lease agreement of $3,047,000 with U.S. Bancorp Government Leasing and Finance Monday to provide 5,500 students with Dell laptops for schoolwork. 

Michelle Baumstark, the community relations director of Columbia Public Schools, said, as part of a long-term district technology plan, the Columbia School District wanted to create a 1 to 1 device implementation for high school students.

Many students in the Columbia Public School District have take-home iPads, including those in grades 5-8, students at Battle High School and AP students at Hickman and Rock Bridge High Schools. But with the new vote, students from middle schools will keep their iPads but high school students who have iPads will exchange them for new laptops. 

"One of the main things we heard back through this process was that our students really wanted to be able to have keyboard, in particular in high school," Baumstark said. "As the student becomes older, they have more responsibilities with regard to writing papers and those type of things, so having a keyboard would really make that process a lot easier for them."

Dr. Kim Presko, the principal of the Battle High School, said the new change is necessary.

"You buy textbooks and then in a year, they're out of date," she said. "We really felt like providing students with one to one device was going to be beneficial for us."

When it comes to the financial charges, Baumstark said there is really no significant differences. According to the lease agreement, the board approved the Dell 3189 2-in-1 laptop, which is worth $554 each with four-year warranties.

Baumstark said the technology is not a substitute for the curriculum expectations and learning environment already in place. 

"It definitely does not replace the role of the teacher, it's just the tool to help with what we do within our classroom environment," she said.