Bexley Education Foundation grant will fund devices for new school year

CHRIS BOURNEA
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This spring, the Bexley City School District school board voted to expedite the district's technology plan, with its goal of providing each student with a device instead of only equipping students who don't have access to technology at home, known as the "1:1 Student-Device Program."

The Bexley Education Foundation recently announced a $250,000 grant to the district to cover the cost entering into a purchase plan for the devices.

Betsy Farrar, chair of the education foundation's board, said the organization's Impact Grant would enable the school district to provide students in grades 2-12 with a Chromebook and kindergarten and first-graders with an iPad at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

"Our board reviewed the request from the school district to support the acceleration of a 1:1 Student-Device Program in terms of the goals set forth in the school district's strategic plan and technology plan, and based upon that information, decided to award this Impact Grant as a necessary first step," Farrar said in a news release.

On May 5, Bexley's school board approved the district administration's effort to prepare a request for proposal for the purchase of 2,275 technology devices to distribute to students at all grade levels.

Superintendent Kimberly Pietsch Miller said providing devices to each student has become a priority in light of the uncertainty the COVID-19 coronavirus has cast on the future of in-person learning environments.

"Access to an individual device is not a luxury," Pietsch Miller said. "Devices are a learning tool that promote innovative and engaging learning through blended instruction focusing on creativity, communication, critical thinking and collaboration."

Brad Pettit, the district's technology director, said during the school board's May 5 meeting that after the devices are purchased, students would be able to keep them until they graduate from high school. The devices would have filters to block inappropriate content and malware, he said.

Pettit said the number of devices purchased would be 8% to 11% more than the district's current enrollment to account for additional students who enroll and for devices that might need to be replaced due to damage.

He also said buying in bulk would result in a greater cost savings.

"It really makes sense to do this K-12 all at once," Pettit said.

For details about the district's technology plan, go to bexleyschools.org/technology.aspx. For details about the Bexley Education Foundation, go to bexleyeducationfoundation.org.

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