Laptops to be Distributed to VCS Students for Technology 1-to-1 Program

Katie Micallef demonstrates VCS laptop

DELAND – Volusia County Schools will distribute laptops to thousands of middle and high school students this month as it prepares to transform to a full Technology 1-to-1 school district.

VCS has secured 33,000 laptops for full-time use by secondary students. About 400 students at six schools piloted the checkout system and tested the new Dell laptops over the past month, and that pilot was a success, said VCS Chief Information Officer Clint Griffin. Laptops will be broadly distributed to middle and high schools this month. Schools will share their rollout plans with families. Students for middle and high schools will use the laptops in school and also take them home daily for homework and projects.

The school district plans to launch a full Technology 1-to-1 program for all elementary, middle, and high schools this summer – meaning every student will have a device starting with the 2021-2022 school year. Research shows that 1-to-1 laptop programs increase student achievement.

“We have worked toward the goal of becoming Technology 1-to-1 district for several years, and we are excited to have that opportunity now,” said VCS Superintendent Dr. Carmen Balgobin. “Our goal is to enhance and support the learning environment.”

With more than 60% of Volusia’s traditional classroom and Volusia Live students qualifying for free- or reduced lunch, many families do not have the resources to provide a computer for their children, Griffin said.

“Many of our students do not have access to a computer at home, and this will give them technology equality,” he said. “It really will be a game-changer for many of our students.”

This month’s initial rollout of laptops to students in grades 6-12 will allow the district to prepare for the full program launch later this year, while also assisting students who need to learn remotely as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Starting next school year, older elementary students will each have a dedicated laptop for classroom use, as well, while students in pre-kindergarten through second grade will be assigned Apple iPads for use in school. There will be a device for every elementary student, but those laptops and iPads will remain in classrooms.

The Volusia County School Board last fall approved a contract to secure 33,000 student devices and 2,500 teacher devices. The new program is being funded by revenue from the half-cent sales tax approved by voters to support technology upgrades, and also with federal CARES Act funds.

The laptops are Microsoft-based, designed for K-12 students with a high-powered processor and large memory to handle technology-based lessons such as mathematical computing, science calculations, graphic design and project work. In December, the School Board approved the purchase of classroom carts to store and charge iPads that will be used in the lower grades.

Families will be provided a Parent and Student Technical Support Resource, and Help Desk support will be provided by the district and at the school level.

PHOTO CAPTION: VCS Learning Technologies Specialist Katie Micallef demonstrates a new Dell laptop to be used in Volusia County Schools’ Technology 1-to-1 program.

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