Incoming sixth- and ninth-graders may have to provide Chromebooks starting next year, although financial assistance is available for some.
Parents of sixth- and ninth-grade students may be asked to buy Chromebooks for their children at the start of next school year, as part of multiyear push to provide every student at the middle- and high-school levels with the simple and relatively inexpensive laptop computers. Students entering sixth and ninth grade would be required to purchase Chromebooks at the start of each of the following two years, after which only incoming sixth-graders would be covered by the policy, since at that point students in all higher grades would already have theirs, provided they attended Melrose schools in prior years.
Financial assistance, up to and including 100 percent of the purchase price, is available for families already enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program, or those experiencing other hardship.
“We spent a lot of time on the ways that people could get a Chromebook,” Technology Director Neal Ellis told the School Committee at its most recent meeting. “We based a lot of that on the National School Lunch Program, the NSLP, which is based on the federal poverty income level. To apply for the NSLP, free lunch is at 130 percent of the federal poverty level, 185 is reduced lunch.”
In this case, those qualifying for free lunch could have the entire cost of the Chromebook covered by the district. Those on reduced lunches would get the laptop for half price, which, payable over three years, would come out to about $40 per year. Families earning twice the federal poverty level would qualify for a 25-percent discount.
“You can always apply for a hardship as well,” Ellis said. “All those are kept very confidential. Those are handled with our finance director personally.”
Students who already have access to a comparable device can use it in place of a new Chromebook, he added.
Superintendent Cyndy Taymore said the district has been planning the 1:1 Chromebook push for some time, but that providing subsidies to families who need them wasn’t feasible before.
“This has been on the backburner for a while,” said Taymore. “This was dependant on the override. In order to underwrite a portion of our students, we needed extra funding, and that was in the override money.”
But Mayor and School Committee member Gail Infurna objected to adding another required expense, so soon after Melrosians voted to raise their own taxes in support of the city’s schools.
“I’m a little concerned about this,” she said. “We just passed an override, and I think the timing is a little tough.”
Infurna suggested the program could be implemented on a more voluntary basis. A draft message to parents prepared by administrators reads, “We are asking all families of student entering levels 6 and 9 to purchase a Chromebook.” Infurna suggested softer language.
“I would like it to say, ‘If you are looking to buy a personal Chromebook for your child,’” she said. “I just think this is a tough year to be asking parents to put out some money to buy their child their own personal Chromebook.”
Ellis said such an approach would likely lead to less students participating, which in turn would complicate the further use of Chromebooks going forward.
“The difficulty with only having some people purchase it is that in a classroom setting you want everyone to have a device, and some kids would not have one, some would,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure that the teacher isn’t having difficulty with it.”
Committee member Margaret Driscoll said most parents are already aware of the growing use of technology in schools, and what such devices often cost.
“I see the kids in school, and I see them with devices that cost probably double what a Chromebook would cost,” Driscoll said. “I get the sense that it wouldn’t be a shock.”
Committee member Jennifer McAndrew suggested a few tweaks to the wording of the message could make a big difference. She suggested that the availability of financial assistance could be made clear very early in the message’s text, in conjunction with a reference to the fact that override funds had made the program possible.
Though administrators had hoped for a vote on the policy, Infurna suggested tabling it until the committee’s May 21 meeting. The committee agreed, making discussion of any changes, and a final vote, likely for that date.
"We spent a lot of time" thinking about the ways, the students could get chromebooks. It doesn't take much to use the federal free lunch as a means test. About one second of thought required. Is this guy stupid?
I appreciate that it might not get hidden that there is financial assistance available but tying it to the override is disingenuous. If the free lunch families are homeowners, the amount they're going to pay in taxes because of the override is more than the cost of a chromebook. If they rent, rents are probably going up too. All but the wealthiest should notice both higher taxes and the cost of the chromebooks.
I don't think chromebooks are necessary since there are no kids today unfamiliar with using technology and most can quickly figure out what they don't know having grown up with the internet, computers and phones.
Maybe those education grants the mayor gives can pay for everyone to have one if they are so important.
And you could have easily begun your response by simply saying "To Google It:", thereby not wasting all that capacity.
I bet it's not old and stupid to those who pay for this site from their own pockets. They've asked that the excessive use of the quote feature be curtailed. The site has only a limited capacity, and excessive quoting wastes it. The previous iteration, Melrose Messages, was shut down several times for exceeding it's limit.
What I find old and stupid is needless wastefulness when there's a simple alternative that only requires the tiniest bit of consideration and effort. Of course, you're a college professor, so you can't be wrong, correct?
Individual 1, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them yourself then. I'm done with you, Mr. Know It All College Professor.
Why don't the two of you start your own 'string', so that those of us who might be interested in the topic of this one can then ignore "yours", and not be bothered by this childishness!
Well. This thread declined rapidly.
Some donkey has stolen my identity and is trolling. I don't care about the quote feature one way or another. I don't teach computer science. And I certainly don't have that much free time on my hands.
Regardless, young people are pretty dumb about many types of technology, and often need explicit instruction. Getting chrome books into classrooms is a great idea - but seems quite a burden to put on parents.
Apparently they go by the playbook that a good defense is a strong offense. These people succeed at being offensive. They fail when it comes to what's legal, ethical and moral.
It is what it is.Nothing new.
I find it pretty incredulous that people think it is outrageous for the town/schools to require upcoming/incoming students (families) to purchase their own ChroemBook. The same folks that have an issue paying ~$220 for a sufficient ChromeBook, have no issue giving their kids a $600 smart phone or equipping their kid with $200+ worth of sports equipment per sport, both of which aren't helping them in the classroom, the chromebook can. Chromeboks are being increasingly used by faculty to help deliver interactive content in the classroom.
When the family purchases the ChromeBook device, it is taken care better by the student. When the school/town buys it, it's trashed by the students as it is not their property. The expression "It's just a rental", comes to mind.
A school can't require families to supply expensive items as part of a free and appropriate public education. The school has to provide curriculum textbooks and the supplies students need for their education. If a chromebook is required to access the curriculum, as the middle school claims, the school is required to provide it. Your example of cell phones and sports equipment isn't relevant. You could be Bill Gates, but the public school still must provide without charge the materials your child needs to learn.
Absolutely agree with previous poster!
Melrose School Committee CANNOT require parents to purchase chromebooks. They will certainly try, and maybe will actually pass another unsustainable, not actually legal policy that no one will dare to challenge though they most certainly should. (Note: there are a number of MPS/MSC policies that would never hold up in court were anyone to pay the nominal fees and challenge them, and this has been confirmed by some very knowledgeable actual experts.)
They have already fobbed off so much expense onto parents that should not have been allowed, including skyrocketing fees for programs that were formerly included as part of the curriculum and paid for as such. MPS now treats parents as the well they can keep dipping into, fees, PTO fund-raisers, MEF fundraisers, now an enormous tax override, sports entry fees, Grad Night fundraisers, Band fundraisers, concert entry fees, "Talent" show entry fees, and on and on. The attitude is harmful, despicable, and just plain wrong.
#1 it’s a PUBLIC SCHOOL #2 um we just gave you over 5 MiLLION $$$$$ ENOUGH
It is what it is .
Which one, the American one?
@Individual1 Has anyone taken the "force you to buy a laptop" policy to court where there's a public record? I don't think DESE hearings and advisory opinions are public record or are difficult to access without lots of effort.
If schools can only 'suggest'bringing all those supplies that they require at the beginning of the school year, I doubt they can officially require you to buy a $200 chrome book especially if you're on free lunch. Alternatives like having some available or offering some free ones probably have to be part of a good policy.
The effort to go to court often isn't worth it because by the time there's a decision, your child will have graduated.
Wealthier communities don't care about the expense and poor ones provide them for free. Once again Melrose is caught in the middle. We have some true economic divisions here that if acknowledged would make a more harmonious place. The beloved Cambridge does it. We can too.
Forget yes or no let’s move forward and hold then officials that run our town accountable..
This must be a joke. Override passes and all prices go up. Very lame excuse in Melrose.
This is nothing new.
Maybe the school department will now be able to afford them from the fake 'school security' pile of money!
$5 Million Dollars in taxpayer monies misrepresented in the fully approved budgets.
Those who claim they're being transparent usually aren't.
Looks like the city is about to hand out another $2.4 million in "free cash" for its pet projects. Oh by the way, that's about half of the $5+ million they just soaked us all for this year (and then for every year forever). But listen to those "One" hacks and zealots and they'll tell you this is "fiscally responsible"!
The point is that if there is $2 million extra dollars left to spend at the end of the fiscal year, then a override wasn't needed. Remember the threats to the elderly and the library? Hmmm ... Looks like those services could have continued without the override.
My Dad says that free slice of pizza I got for voting cost him a thousand dollars!!!
Pretty awesome how the admins of this site are deleting my comments. Nice censorship of opposing viewpoints, team.
MCG, mcg, mcg.
And don't even tell me it's for name calling or being mean when there's a post Teo above me calling people hacks and zealots. All I said was "you people" about the people who thinks being fiscally responsible means running a break even city, or more realistically, an illegal deficit.
One you are using a VPN to you are a poser.Just look at all the times you posted.IT SHOULD BE ONE HOUR.DO YOU SEE THIS.This is for COME ON ;MAN
We all need to play by the rules.Just think about it;s free for all you get to be private.Not cost you a dime.This is not cheap.I looked in to it expensive and you have your privacy.Thank you to the persons that is running this site.
Actually, I'm not using a VPN, not that there would be anything wrong with it if I were.
All the times I posted? Wtf are you walking about? It was three times total, and two were removed for some reason.
Nope. A post of mine responding to one of yours somehow doesn't appear either. Seems to be a site glitch, not censorship, because if you click on my user name it shows up.
This is what I said in response to your comment about fiscal responsibility: "Fiscal responsibility? You mean like fraudulently accounting for over $5 million as "school security" expenditures when they were no such thing? That kind of fiscal responsibility? How come you're not upset by that?"
Click your user name and see if what you can't find is there. Also, I do use a VPN, and sometimes it actually does screw things up on certain sites. I have to turn it off to get some sites to work correctly. Example - Prime Video.
Are any of them the post or posts you say were deleted?
Hey C'Mon, Stop using a VPN and maybe things'll improve for you. Funny that you care so much and funny that you are upset, given the kinds of things you typically post.
Give me a break. Is anyone twisting your arm to post here? Most of my old posts are gone too. So what?
Sure they got the voters riled up for awhile but most citizens don't care. They think that by voting once, the schools are covered. They were warned to keep up the involvement but within less than a month, Melrose is playing the same games but with more money scheduled to come in.Primary September 4 2019.