Glenbrook High School District 225 officials approved the purchase of new, more durable one-to-one technology devices to better equip the district's sophomores and incoming freshmen in the 2014-15 school year.
The district's incoming freshmen were originally the only class to get the new devices, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e. But officials decided at a recent meeting to provide the upcoming sophomore class with the devices as well because of the money savings the purchase is supposed to bring in the long run.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga laptop, which is expected to last four years, has a touch screen and a 360 degree hinge that allows it to be used as a tablet. It is replacing the Samsung ChromeBooks the district purchased last year for all freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
Each device, priced at $426, will cost a student $110 annually. The district will cover part of the price for the devices in addition to insurance, filtering software and other costs.
"The fact that we could secure the device for a reduced cost from the original business plan makes this a win-win situation for students, parents and the district," Superintendent Michael Riggle said.
Officials said they intend to purchase about 1,325 Lenovo ChromeBooks for the incoming freshmen as well as about 1,000 additional devices for the sophomores.
Under the district's new payment model, students' families would pay for the new devices themselves while the district would pick up the costs for filtering software, management consoles and insurance, according to district documents. Students would be able to keep the Lenovo devices after they are done with school.
The new device is expected to be more durable and more helpful in science and math classes where students could benefit from the touch screen technology, said Ryan Bretag, the district's director of instructional technology.
"We're rather early on this Lenovo," Bretag told board members. "This is probably one of the first in the country that's on the premises of a school."
For the incoming freshmen, the district would be paying $169 per device over four years, spending about $55,650 annually.
For the upcoming sophomores, who were using the Samsung ChromeBooks in the 2013-14 year, the district would be paying about $244,000 over three years.
If the class of 2017 had continued using the Samsung ChromeBooks, which have a two-year life, for another year before getting the Lenovo devices in their junior year, the district would end up paying about $45,000 more over the same three years, or about $289,000, according to the district's estimates.
Board Member Bruce Doughty said he was skeptical about the price of the Lenovo device not going down after a whole year.
"I like the idea of saving money," Doughty said at the June 9 school board meeting. "(But) my gut tells me … these devices are going to become cheaper."
Bretag said he doesn't expect the price of the Lenovo ThinkPad to drop in the next year because the device is so new to the market. However, he acknowledged that he is just making an educated guess.
Other board members and officials said they were glad to save some money and provide better devices for more students next year.
"I like this very much," Board Member Karen Hanley said.