10 schools to get computers under lease agreement | July 31, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Newsfront - July 31, 2009

10 schools to get computers under lease agreement

MacBooks provided through parent funding, Title I funds

by Geoff Gillette

A new lease program approved by members of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education will bring an infusion of new technology to several area schools with little cash outlay by the district.

Board members approved a pair of lease agreements with Apple Inc. at a special meeting July 23. District Technology Director Bruce Chmielesky gave a brief presentation on how the leases would work and what they would provide for the school district.

"Getting these computers in the classrooms at these schools will bring us closer to getting to that 1:1 ratio in our classrooms," Chmielesky explained.

"I'm really pleased they are going down this path," agreed Superintendent Steve Enoch. "It's a move to be infusing technology further in our classrooms."

A total of 400 Apple MacBooks would be spread out among the 10 schools. One of the lease agreements is for three years and one is for four years. Schools getting computers include:

* Charlotte Wood Middle School

* Creekside Elementary School

* Country Club Elementary School

* Diablo Vista Middle School

* Live Oak Elementary School

* Los Cerros Middle School

* Montair Elementary School

* Quail Run Elementary School

* Sycamore Valley Elementary School

* Twin Creeks Elementary School

Board members expressed their concerns about the $466,084 price tag over the four years of the lease agreements. District funding has continued to erode as property taxes have diminished, as well as losses in state funding.

Chmielesky explained that the brunt of the cost for those 10 schools is being picked up by parent contributions.

"About 80 percent of these payments will come from parent donations. The rest will be in Title I and categorical funding," he stated. Seven of the schools will be fully funded by parent donations, two by a mix of parent and school funding, and one that will be completely funded through categoricals.

Enoch was quick to point out that schools are using funds that were already donated by parents, not going back to ask for more money to buy the new computers.

"What we've said is we don't want to hear that you're asking parents for more money for this," he warned.

The decision over which schools would participate in the lease agreement was reached in June. Chmielesky said that they convened a meeting of principals to talk about technology purchasing and the possibility of using leases as a means of getting a better deal. The 10 schools stepped forward as wanting to take part in the plan.

Six schools in the district chose to move ahead with a straight purchase option and bought 127 new computers for their schools. Those schools include Dougherty Valley High School, Windemere Ranch Middle School, Gale Ranch Middle School and Golden View Elementary. Chmieleski said other principals are working with their parent groups and categorical funding to determine if their budgets would allow a similar purchase this year.

Doing the large group leases will have the added benefit of dropping the per unit cost of the computers by more than $100. Chmielesky added that at the end of the leasing period the district will have the option of purchasing the units at a cost of $1 each.

Two schools will be receiving the lion's share of the new computers. Both Quail Run Elementary and Sycamore Valley Elementary Schools will receive 100 MacBooks, along with notebook carts to get the computers to the classrooms.

Board member Ken Mintz said he was pleased that the parent donations were able to provide the computers, but questioned what would happen if future donations should fall short and whether the district would be left holding the bag.

District Assistant Superintendent of Finance Gary Black assured the board that would not be the case as each lease agreement is structured such that should the funding dry up, the district has the ability to cancel the agreement and return the computer equipment to Apple.

"We can opt out with 30 days notice and give it back," he explained.

Mintz applauded the leases, saying that this is how businesses are approaching the ever-increasing burden of emerging technologies.

After a very brief discussion, board members unanimously approved the two lease agreements.

With the leases approved, Chmielesky said his department will begin the process of getting the equipment in place at their various schools. He said he is hopeful they will have all of the computers ready by the start of school next month.