Franklin School Board OK’s Chromebook purchase

Published 11:27 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Franklin City School Board voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a purchase order for 200 Chromebooks, intended for use by students at S.P. Morton Elementary School. The purchase order specifies a unit price of $309.67.

Chromebooks are laptop or tablet computers running Google’s Chrome OS operating system as opposed to Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS. They almost exclusively run web-based applications through the Chrome browser.

Also included in the purchase order is a one-time, per-unit Google Chrome OS Management Console educational license fee of $25.29. This allows web-based applications to be deployed to Chromebook users and various settings and restrictions to be configured. The subtotal cost for the 200 physical units comes to $61,934, and the subtotal for the license fees comes to an additional $5,058.

The purchase order also includes 50 Dell Optiplex 3050 SFF desktop computers at a unit price of $591.70 and 90 Dell 19-inch monitors at a unit price of $76.99. The total cost for all computer equipment comes to $103,506.10.

The board also approved a second purchase order for eight Chromebook charging carts. The carts will cost $1,435.19 apiece for a total of $11,481.52.

Superintendent Tamara Sterling explained that the purchase of Chromebooks and related accessories was part of a 1:1 initiative at S.P. Morton, that seeks to have one laptop available for every student. The 200 units will meet this goal for all first grade, second grade and third grade students.

In other business, the board discussed plans for unspent carryover funds from the 2017-2018 school year. The Virginia Department of Education had allocated additional funds to Franklin City Public Schools on June 30, but because June 30 was the last day of the 2017-2018 school year, the division could not spend the money before the start of the current school year.

The division plans to use the money to repave the parking lot at Franklin High School and add exterior lights around the school, renovate the teachers lounges at each of its three schools, repaint all three schools, upgrade FHS’s electrical wiring and purchase additional Chromebooks for J.P. King Jr. Middle School.

The board also voted unanimously to request the City Council appropriate a $29,500 grant to the division from Franklin-Southampton Charities. They also approved a new Opportunity Inc. agreement and revisions to the division’s policy on extracurricular participation eligibility requirements for Franklin High School and J.P. King Jr. Middle School students. Revisions include:

  • High school and middle school students must both now pass three out of four classes each semester to maintain eligibility. Middle school students had previously been required to pass five out of seven classes.
  • Consequences for missing the mandatory study hall or tutorial sessions required for all students with marking period grade point averages below 2.0 are now determined by the high school administration rather than the division.
  • Students who are not “in good standing” with the school because of disciplinary infractions will be subject to consequences determined by the high school administration rather than the division.
  • If a student is in an in-school suspension or out-of-school suspension on game day, he or she will not be considered “in good standing” and will not be allowed to play in the game on that day.

These revisions were made to make Franklin City Public Schools’ policy better align with the requirements of the Virginia High School League.

The board also approved the use of JASON Learning – a STEM program that provides elementary students with a hands-on approach to science and a focus on reading – for S.P. Morton. This was done to address a dip in science progress on SOLs and turnover in science teachers at the school.

The final matter on which the board voted was to grant the City of Franklin an easement on the parcel of land where S.P. Morton is located. The city intends to use the easement to install a new 8-inch water line and new overhead electric poles to supply water and electricity to the Hayden Village Center, formerly Hayden High School.

City Attorney H. Taylor Williams IV explained that in order for the Hayden Village Center to meet modern building codes, the 8-inch water line is needed to provide sufficient pressure to install a sprinkler system. When the building had been in use as Hayden High School, it had been connected via a 4-inch water line from Oak Street and a sprinkler system had not been required.

The city has estimated a cost of $68,000 for the new water line, which will be borne by the property developer and the city.