By Tim Linscott, Managing Editor
Perkins County Superintendent Phillip Picquet has reviewed the situation of students using laptops at the high school and told board members at the July board meeting he was ‘shocked’ by it.
“To have that many broken computers in a district this size I am just shocked,” Picquet said. “Some things make you stop and think and we need to correct a few things.”
Four laptops were stolen or lost last school year. Two were stolen and belonged to seniors. One was stolen in Ogallala, the other out of the state.
Software on the machines to help trace the location of the machine has come up empty according to school officials.
There were 10-12 broken laptop screens this past school year.
Students pay a $100 fee at the start of the school year to cover such mishaps, however, Michelle Evans, technology coordinator for the district, explained one student alone had two screens broken this school year.
Depending on how badly broken the screen, the district must pay $250-$300 per instance to have the screens fixed.
“Some screens were so broken that they were cracked down to the LCD, which will likely be pricier than usual,” Evans said.
The board has discussed raising the fee next year.
More education on the care and protection of the devices was urged by the board. Board member Doug Beck suggested if a student has a broken screen during the school year and is proven to be negligent, they are disqualified from having a laptop the rest of the school year.
School board president Shawn Turner noted it was a particularly bad year for broken screens within the district.
“Maybe we need to re-look at the whole program?” Turner pondered. “We need to make the policies tougher or get rid of the whole program.”
If a student is found negligent in a computer being broken they will lose the ‘good’ computer and will be given an older model. In light of that computer being damaged, the student may lose the privilege altogether.
Wording has been changed in policies by the board that if a student is found responsible for negligent use of the computer (lost, stolen or damaged), that student would be responsible for up to $500 in replacement costs.
Circumstances of each instance will be factored in and evaluated in each case, according to school officials.
District has new filter
In an attempt to stay one step ahead of tech-savvy teens, Michelle Evans, technology coordinator for Perkins County Public Schools, will be spending the weekend testing the district’s new filter system.
Before laptops are re-imaged (a process that is equivalent of a complete wipe-out and re-installation, returning the computer to its original state), at the start of the school year, Evans will be getting the fine points of the new filter system worked out.
The system has more options for the district, including creating categories for violations.
The first violation will result in ‘toned down’ privileges for the student with more restrictions applied per violation.
From 4-10 p.m. social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will be available on school-owned computers, but that will be the only times those sites can be accessed from laptops owned by the district.
“This filter is the school’s and is so much easier to block sites,” said Michelle Evans.