As other neighboring school districts have done, the Maine Township High School District 207 board voted Monday to move from textbooks to Google Chromebooks, which are a type of laptop computer.
The Chromebooks will cost each student a technology fee of $319, plus an optional insurance charge. However, over a three-year span, that would result in cost savings of $225 over what each student would normally pay in textbook charges, according to a D-207 presentation.
Students who will be freshman and sophomores in the 2013-14 school year will be the first to get the Chromebooks. Juniors will be added in the 2014-15 school year and all students will have them by the 2015-16 school year.
“The Education Committee supports the proposal because of its important academic implications and fiscal advantages to all concerned,” wrote Dr. Barb Dill-Varga, assistant superintendent for curriculum/instruction, in a memo to Superintendent Ken Wallace.
Eighth graders who will be entering Maine South in the fall had an orientation program Thursday evening, and Principal Shawn Messmer told students they would be using Chromebooks and that more information would be coming soon. The district’s timeline calls for parents to order the Chromebooks in April.
D-207 education specialists felt now is the time to go from paper to digital because of the lower cost and greater availability of digital textbooks, according to the district presentation.
Dave Beery, the district’s communications director, said the Chromebooks are equipped with a hefty 16 GB of memory and come with the powerful graphic calculators the district asks students to buy.
However, most of students' information will be stored in the cloud, according to a Google.com document, so that if a student loses his or her Chromebook, the student can log on to any other Chromebook and find his or her information.
Neighboring high school districts have already switched to digital textbooks. Niles Township High Schools use Linux netbooks, Leyden Township High Schools use Chromebooks, and Adlai Stevenson and New Trier High Schools use iPads.
The District 207 board on Monday approved spending $1.069 million to purchase 3,350 Chromebooks. The district will be reimbursed as parents pay the $319 per student technology fee, leaving the expense to the district at $218,342 for the first year, according to Dill-Varga’s memo.