GREENVILLE, Maine — Although Hewlett-Packard was announced as the preferred contractor for the Maine Learning Technology Institute earlier this year, Greenville junior high and high school students will use Apple iPads when school reopens this fall.
Superintendent Beth Lorigan told the Greenville School Committee at Monday night’s meeting that the cost of 89 tablet computers for students and MacBook Air and Mini iPads for their teachers was far less than switching to the HP units. “The state will pick up the cost of the 7th and 8th grade units,” Lorigan said. “The bid for us came in at $18,471.” The Greenville schools’ student technology budget is $20,000 this year.
The technology package includes “every accessible feature you’d want on the iPad,” Lorigan added, and the deal will allow the old MacBooks being used in the junior high and high school to be passed down to the lower grades.
While the committee supported the proposal, member Leslie Bilodeau said that the school should review its policy on student responsibility for the units. “I would like to see a policy that basically states ‘You break it; you buy it,’” Bilodeau said.
For the past several years the school has picked up the tab for the students’ laptop insurance premium of $40 per year. But board Chairman John Cobb said that the policy should be revisited this year, conceding that “even $40 a year might be difficult for some families.”
Cobb also said that while he supports making students more responsible for their iPads, someone has to be “judge and jury to figure out what kid gets theirs fixed through insurance … as opposed to someone who was just negligent.”
The committee agreed to work with Lorigan, Principal Kelly MacFadyen and Technology Coordinator Kathy Bishop on a revised laptop usage policy before school reconvenes this fall.
Lorigan also reported that a recent Maine Department of Labor Safety Works evaluation revealed some major deficiencies in the school, and some may be costly to fix. Safety Works is a free service, and even when problems are uncovered, no citations or fines are issued.
Some machinery in the woodworking shop should be discarded because they don’t have automatic shutoffs to comply with current safety regulations, Lorigan said.
While it was originally thought that handrails didn’t have to be installed on both sides of stairwells, the width of the stairs is “just over the limit” according to current guidelines, Lorigan said. Committee Vice-Chair Mike Theriault said that the revelation was a surprise him. “We’ve been fine for the past 75 years,” Theriault said.
Among other recommendations were upgrades to the schools’ security system and repairs to the Oakes Auditorium floor. Cobb noted that a lot of funds have been raised in the community over the years to maintain and upgrade the auditorium, so it should be a “high-priority item.”
Cobb also announced that he was stepping down as chairman due to his personal and work commitments, but said that he thoroughly enjoyed his tenure. “Handing out the diplomas at graduation and reading the list of top students was the highlight of my term,” Cobb said.
After Theriault declined to accept the chairmanship, also due to his work schedule, the board elected Ann Murray as chair and Bilodeau as vice chairman.
The next regularly scheduled Greenville School Committee meeting will be held on Monday, July 29.