Pine Tree ISD is continuing to increase its technology resources to ensure all students will have the materials they need in case of another closure.
The district applied for and received a $97,000 technology lending grant from the Texas Education Agency, Director of Technology Todd Yohn said.
The only other district in the area to receive the grant is Marshall ISD.
“The technology lending grant was a TEA grant designed around the idea of getting students that don’t have access to a dedicated device for digital learning the opportunity to be lent a device,” Yohn said. “We applied in July (2019) and basically got approved for a plan to purchase Chromebooks and lend those to students that need a dedicated device.”
The district will be able to buy about 498 Chromebooks, he said. In June, the board approved a four-year Chromebook lease for $797,965.
Yohn said the lease and the grant combined will fill gaps on campus and at home.
“The lease is for the on-campus devices. That’s two separate initiatives. One is for every student to have one in the classroom,” he said.
The purchase of laptops, plus hot spots from the district, will allow students to work from home if another closure happens because of COVID-19 spread, Yohn said.
The district loaned out about 180 Chromebooks during the quarantine, he said.
“I think that number will be a lot higher if we shut down the school again,” because of the work required from students, Yohn said. “It’s going to be a big focus. We’ve got some families that might have four kids sharing one laptop.”
The program will help those families or students who might have only one home computer that is needed by their parents for work. Yohn said it is specifically designed for students to have machines dedicated to completing schoolwork at home.
The lending laptops will start with high school students and then trickle down to maybe junior high, he said. If the school closes again, the laptops and iPads in classroom carts would be checked out, also.
“I think it’s really going to help the kids a lot,” he said.