Michigan school district struggles to keep up with student devices

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(TNS) – Resources are limited in the technology department at Tecumseh Public Schools due to a number of factors, including the lack of tracking of Chromebooks that returned home with students last year during the pandemic in emergency circumstances.

The district is considering adding an additional staff member to fill the gap, and the resources to hire another full-time employee are within the tech budget, but it’s hard to find someone with the right skills who is ready to do the job and will stay with the neighborhood for the long haul.

“People with these skills have many options, and school districts typically don’t pay for what the private sector does,” Superintendent Rick Hilderley said. “So finding the right fit is a challenge, and you combine that with the fact that we’ve almost doubled or tripled our devices in the last couple of years, so it’s bogging down his department (Deven Knight, director of technology services) a lot. . “


When students returned home last year with their devices, many did not return their Chromebooks at the end of the school year.

“We just didn’t do a great job last year because in an emergency we had to respond quickly with devices, and tracking our devices was a secondary priority. So if we had the time to follow them, we did, but in some cases we didn’t have the time to follow our assets, ”Hilderley said. “So we have devices that we know exist that are not in our possession, and we don’t know exactly how many or what condition they are in and we probably won’t know until the school year. departures.

The budget committee recently approved the purchase of 300 new Chromebooks, and Knight is responsible for bringing those devices into service and assigning them to students as well.

“So we have 300 new ones. We have our Chromebooks in our possession, then we have a stack of several hundred that are in various states of disrepair, and then we have this phantom number of devices that are in the hands of students and of families that weren’t returned at the end of last year and that’s the part that’s hard to figure out – OK, how many are there, how many will be coming back, what’s going on needs to be fixed? lack of manpower, how are we going to fix it? ” said Hilderley.

Students in grades 7 to 12 receive their own device, which can travel to and from school with them.

“We are committed to our individual initiative, which has been going on for probably 10 years,” Hilderley said.

From the third to the sixth year, there are sets of devices in the classroom. Each device is specifically assigned to a particular student. Schools do not allow devices to come and go from school to home to reduce the need for repairs.

In the K-2 program there are tablets that children can interact with, which also stay in school.

Although Knight is out of breath and wondering if he can make it through the start of the school year by having all the students with devices in hand, Hilderley is confident the job will be done on time.

“Deven is very careful, and I respect that about him. But I feel good. I think we’ll have enough people show up on day one and have their Chromebooks in hand, and that will give us the padding we need to. making sure everyone has a device, ”said Hilderley. “We need it for a number of reasons. We have a lot of digital resources in our program that require kids to engage with products online and then we have to be ready if there is a reason, be it quarantine. or some sort of shutdown where we have to go back to distance education. We just want to make sure that the students have devices to receive the program and the teaching. “

© 2021 The Daily Telegram, Adrian, Michigan. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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