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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

Camden Hills Regional High School officials have made changes after spending $56,000 in laptop repairs last year.

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.

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Comments:

  1. carole976

    November 18, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    The cost involved in maintaining and repairing laptop computers is an important consideration and one in which students can certainly play an integral role.

    In addition to the recommendations outlined in this article, at MOUSE (www.mouse.org), we are seeing great examples of how students are actually part of the solution by addressing the technical issues that arise.

    As members of MOUSE Squads that provide tech support in their schools, our students expertly handle a wide array of technology issues — adding memory, updating software, fixing displays and addressing connectivity issues. In doing so, they are gaining a valuable hands-on learning experience, as well as offsetting the significant costs to schools for tech repair.

    While ensuring that students are responsible for laptops (and other school property) is an important factor, having students handle technical issues can give them the unique opportunity to provide critical support for their school community and to develop technology and leadership skills that are essential for college and career.

  2. dog15bert

    November 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    At least laptops can be repaired. Tablets for the most part have to be completely replaced. Even with purchase of an extended warranty (read: Applecare for iPads), they may only one replacement of the broken device.


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