Dell computers

Students in Peters Township School District are receiving a technological upgrade.

During a special voting meeting conducted remotely June 4 and subsequently made available online, the school board unanimously approved a pair of four-year hardware lease agreements that will provide for 3,500 Dell computers, along with one-year software subscriptions for filtering, access and learning-management systems. The total cost is $1.55 million.

“We will be providing students K to 12 with one-to-one devices across the board for that consistent experience, to make sure that all of our students have the ability to have appropriate access to our online learning environment,” said Adam Swinchock, district director of educational technology.

Superintendent Jeannine French said the equipment is intended to enhance in-class instruction while also preparing the district for the possibility of further remote instruction, as has been conducted in schools throughout Pennsylvania following their mid-March closings because of COVID-19.

“It will allow for a seamless transition in the event that we’re forced to do that,” she said.

In the meantime, district officials are making preparations for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

“We will be planning for all scenarios based on what’s going on with the prevalence of disease in our community,” French said. “But our intention and our desire is that we will have all of our children back in class with us.”

The hardware leases approved by the board provide for 2,000 Dell Latitude 3190 laptop computers and 1,500 Dell Chromebooks, with both models specifically designed for use by students. The combined cost is $375,118 annually.

Regarding the software, Lightspeed Systems’ Relay Classroom is a tool to help facilitate and manage students’ internet activity during class, including filtering functions on and off school premises.

The other software product to which the district has subscribed, Instructure Canvas Cloud Learning Management System, is intended “to provide a consistent experience for all of our students and parents, to ensure that learning is standard across the board,” Swinchock said.

The district also is pursuing the ability to provide “hot spot” internet connectivity for all students, and Swinchock anticipates bringing a proposal to the school board for action later in the month.

“We are collecting information on who may need those devices,” he said, “and we don’t want to over-purchase those devices.”

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. June 29. Among the agenda items will be adoption of the district’s final budget for 2020-21, action that the state requires by the following day.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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