Merced school board spends $1.3 million to buy 4,500 Chromebook computers

Merced City School District Board of Education members approved buying 4,500 Chromebooks for third- through eighth-grade students to use this fall.

The purchase from CDW-G, a nationwide computer retailer, amounts to $1,333,130 and was one of three valid bids. Funding comes from state funds the school district is using to implement Common Core instructional practices, said Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services.

Board member Susan Walsh said the district is about ready to fulfill its plan of placing a Chromebook, which is a small laptop computer, in the hands of every student.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Walsh said. “It’s a way to richly improve students’ education.”

Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran said one-to-one computer instruction is the next era of education. New students will be required to be competent on computer technology, use of keyboards and the Internet.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Duran said. “I’m confident we will have one-to-one in place by next fall.”

Spicer said the district ultimately will have about 7,700 Chromebooks available by this summer.

The district’s information technology department will process them into the district’s inventory and install all required computer applications. Carts that include charging stations and secure storage also are part of the purchase.

The district already bought 2,800 Chromebooks in a previous order and an additional 300 that were used in a pilot summer school program two years ago.

During the next school year, administrators are researching what computer devices are suitable for kindergarten through second-grade students and what computer applications are needed, Spicer said.

PCMG bid $1,348,474 and Troxell bid $1,351,981 to supply the Chromebooks.

Board member Gene Stamm said the computer devices will be in hand by the end of the current school year and available for this year’s expanded summer school program. Board member Adam Cox said he is excited about the computer purchase, noting state achievement testing of students now is being done electronically.

The Chromebooks will be available in most all third- through eighth-grade classes, except physical education and some electives. Computers will be available by summer so teachers can practice on them, Spicer said.