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November 17th, 2011
School districts struggle with laptop repairs
Maine district’s $56,000 repair bill underscores the need to educate students about their responsibility—and hold them accountable for damages
William Shuttleworth, superintendent of the Maine School Administrative District No. 28, said he “shivered” when he recently wrote out a check for $56,000 in repairs to laptops at the district’s Camden Hills Regional High School. He added: “I don’t want to write another one.”
Camden Hills spent $56,000 on laptop computer repairs last year—a cost that officials are calling astronomically high. A bill that large could jeopardize the entire laptop program at the school, they said.
The school is one of 69 statewide that participate in a Maine Learning Technology Initiative program, led by the Maine Department of Education, that makes laptops available to high school students.
Camden Hills spends about $150,000 to lease 778 laptop computers each year from the state. The school this year exceeded that budget by more than one-third for repairs. And the $56,000 tab doesn’t include the repairs covered by Apple’s warranty or paid for by students for intentional damage.
Camden Hills isn’t the only school that has struggled with laptop repair costs. The Farmington Municipal Schools in New Mexico, for instance, said earlier this year that students owe the district about $150,000 in laptop repair fees from the last three years of its one-to-one computing program in middle and high schools.
Stories like these underscore the need for school officials to plan carefully to address the need for maintenance and other related costs when they roll out one-to-one computing programs. And observers say educating students about their responsibility in caring for school-issued computers—and holding them accountable for the machines—can help reduce the need for costly repairs.