Chromebooks will begin replacing MacBooks in Riverside Elementary School District 96 next year.
The District 96 Board of Education voted unanimously at its April 21 meeting to buy Chromebooks, a web-based type of laptop computer, for all fifth- and sixth-graders in the district next year.
For the last six years in District 96 all fifth-graders received a MacBook laptop computer to use until they graduated eighth grade.
The main advantage of the Chromebook is price. While an Apple MacBook costs $1,050, a Chromebook can be purchased for $287, according to a presentation by Don Tufano, the director of innovation and instructional technology in District 96.
Switching from MacBooks to Chromebooks is expected to save the district $133,467 over the next four years for each grade level. MacBooks would have cost $210,000 per grade level while Chromebooks are projected to cost the district $76,533.
The district also considered switching to iPads, which would have saved the district $87,333 over the cost of MacBooks, but the savings were greater with Chromebooks. This year the district has done pilot projects with Chromebooks and iPads in a few fifth-grade classrooms, and teachers have generally thought the Chromebooks performed as well as MacBooks.
Next year’s seventh- and eighth-graders will continue with their MacBooks until they graduate.
District 96 began its much ballyhooed one-to-one laptop program six years ago and has been a big Apple customer since then. But the current administration and the school board decided that Chromebooks offer more bang for the buck.
“I’m fine with Chromebooks,” said departing board member Art Perry, who long has been critical of the district’s one-to-one program.
Lightweight Chromebooks have no hard drives. They are used to access web-based programs.
Chromebooks OK’d at RBHS
Chromebooks are also coming to Riverside Brookfield High School next year. On March 24 the District 208 school board voted unanimously to give each RBHS freshman next year a Chromebook. Future freshmen will also be given Chromebooks so that by the 2018-19 school year every student will have a school-issued Chromebook.
Incoming freshmen will be charged a $100 technology fee next year to partially defray the cost of the Chromebooks. Students will keep their Chromebooks when they graduate. The one-to-one initiative is projected to cost the district $662,214 over five years.
Komarek goes with Apple
Komarek School in North Riverside is bucking the trend toward Chromebooks. This school year District 94 began leasing 55 Apple MacBook Air laptops for its fifth-graders.
Each fifth-grader has a school-issued MacBook Air, which students use in school and can take home. In subsequent years each group of fifth-graders will also receive a MacBook Air. When students graduate from Komarek they can keep their MacBook. The computer has a $1 buyout after a four-year lease.
Komarek’s technology coordinator and technology advisor favored the Apple MacBooks over Chromebooks for three main reasons, District 94 Superintendent Neil Pellicci said.
“There’s a lot more applications,” Pellicci said. “The reliability of the machine is much better and durability, long term, so those were really the three reasons why we went with them.”