Bexley Education Foundation launches campaign to cover cost of students' devices

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
Bexley Education Foundation

The Bexley City Schools’ 1:1 program adopted last year to provide each student with a school-issued iPad or Chromebook has been expedited by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, district officials say.

On Oct. 1, the Bexley Education Foundation (BEF) launched a “One for All” fundraising campaign to cover the estimated $1 million cost of purchasing the devices, said Pam Glasgow, BEF executive director.

One of the major goals of the campaign is to eliminate disparities in students’ access to technology, Glasgow said.

“This 1:1 program does level the playing field because all students have the same devices,” she said. “That’s what equity truly means, is when everyone has the same access.”

The district initiated the 1:1 program as part of a comprehensive technology plan that the board of education approved in 2019. When schools moved to remote learning last spring amid the pandemic, the district expedited the program, Glasgow said.

The pandemic “really exposed a lot of the gaps and inequities that our students had with accessing technology,” she said.

In May, the BEF made an initial $250,000 Impact Grant to the district that was culled from previous donations that the foundation had on hand, Glasgow said. The Impact Grant covered the purchase of devices and mobile hotspots for students who little or no access to technology at home. At the district’s request, the BEF expanded its fundraising efforts to cover the purchase of devices for all students, Glasgow said.

Led by a committee of community volunteers, chaired by Anna Ramsden and Jeremy Seck, the BEF’s “One for All” campaign has received nearly $400,000 in gifts and pledges toward its $1 million goal. Funds raised will go toward a payment plan that the district entered into last spring for the purchase of 2,275 technology devices, Glasgow said.

“Our commitment was to make the initial purchase for the devices,” with the district assuming future maintenance and replacement costs, she said.

Brad Petit, the district’s technology director, said the district began distributing the devices through a phased rollout in early October by grade level, starting with grades 2 through 5 from Oct. 6-12.

“We’ll follow this up by rolling out to middle school starting (Oct. 20). While we are preparing those devices, we will also be inventorying and assigning iPads that were initially for grades kindergarten and first grade and we will circle back and we’ll get those to students,” Petit said. “We’ll roll out high school devices (Monday, Oct. 26 through Oct. 30).”

The Bexley City Schools began the school year in full-remote learning Aug. 24 and transitioned to a hybrid model Sept. 21 that combines in-person and remote learning. Providing each student with a device will help the district maintain continuity in instruction, said Marlee Snowdon, board president.

“I have heard from several parents that part of the biggest struggle is having to share their laptop with their kids,” she said. “This will make a huge impact.”

For information and to donate to the “One for All” campaign, visit Bexleyeducationfoundation.org.

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