Camden Hills calls laptop repair bills ‘reasonable,’ but costs still quadruple other schools

Posted Jan. 06, 2012, at 4:54 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 09, 2012, at 10:27 a.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — The high school here vowed to cut its laptop repair costs after an “astronomically high” $56,000 bill last school year. And it has, but the costs are still quadruple what its local counterparts are spending.

Camden Hills Regional High School released information that it has spent $12,000 this school year on repairs in the state’s one-to-one laptop rental program, which gives each high school student a MacBook. That’s about $3,000 a month so far. Although that’s down from a rough average of $6,000 a month last year, it’s still a huge budget line compared to similar-size Rockland High School’s laptop bill, which topped off at about $5,000 for the whole school year last year.

The superintendent says the new numbers are good news. The entire laptop program was in jeopardy when the school district had to write the check for $56,000, but by collecting $50 per student for the laptop program this year, Camden Hills Regional High has a $25,000 cushion.

“$12,000 is very reasonable,” said Superintendent William Shuttleworth on Friday. “We’re pretty pleased with the low amount of repairs. For the most part, the repairs are wear and tear. The machines are 3 or 4 years old; they’re starting to wear out. I don’t think these machines are meant for the heavy use they get.”

Shuttleworth attributes last year’s high laptop repair bill to carelessness. Since then, the school has made students carry their computers in protective cases and constantly reminds them how to care for their computers.

According to the Jan. 4 meeting minutes for the school district’s finance committee, 37 computers were damaged in December. Of those repairs, 25 were damaged hinges and cases, seven were broken screens, and five were malfunctioning hard drives. That tallied up a $4,600 bill in addition to previous bills since September.

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