Brandywine Heights School Board looks at replacing textbooks with digital books

Brandywine Heights High School

Brandywine Heights School Board approved the purchase of Dell tablets for students and begin the process of replacing textbooks with digital books.

The purchase is dependent on the approval of the final budget in June.

Brandywine Heights School DistrictDirector of Instructional TechnologyThomas Voelker presented to the School Board recently what he envisions for the district in terms of technology for the next couple of years.

“We need to clearly define our four to five to 10 year plan and understand what that vision is,” Voelker said.

The ultimate plan that Voelker wants to initiate is to create a one-to-one ratio of devices in the district. He believes that there can be one electronic learning device for every student in the district.

The motion before the board was to vote for the purchase of 170 Dell 10 tablets or another tablet with any amount that was not to exceed $80,000.

The tablets will include digital worksheets and digital work books which Voelker said will save the school district around $7,000 per grade.

He explained that digital books only cost $32 per student and get updated on a regular basis, meanwhile the physical text books cost an average of $86 per student.

The beginning of the process will include phasing out the older computers by giving them to the high school students. Seniors will receive laptops that have one year left, juniors will receive laptops that have two years left and sophomores will receive laptops that have three years left. The freshmen will receive brand new laptops.

“That plan is supposed to start next year, if the budget passes,” Voelker said.

At the end of the committee of the whole meeting, the board went into a regular voting meeting at which time they unanimously passed the motion to purchase 170 or up to $80,000 worth of the Dell 10 tablets or an equivalent tablet.

“We’re still in negotiations with two companies and we’re trying to squeeze as many devices in as we can,” said Superintendent Dr. Martin Handler to the board.

Some parents were concerned about the safety of the laptops and devices that would be taken home.

“We’re thinking about allowing parents to purchase some kind of insurance on the device so that they all the sudden do not have to shell out $300 or $400 all of the sudden, but we’re still thinking that through,” Voelker told the public.

All of the technological purchases can only happen if the board passes the proposed budget which will be voted on in June.

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