Montgomery Co. Public Schools to spend $15M on 40K laptops, tablets

BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) – Technology isn’t cheap, but Montgomery County Public Schools says it is a worthwhile investment. This summer, the school district will buy 40,000 laptops and tablets for students to use in the classroom and at home, but not everyone is excited about the idea.

The purchase will not be a low-budget endeavor; it costs $15 million just to roll out the program. However, supporters say these devices will make learning more interesting and allow teachers to better monitor their students both in and out of the classroom.

Call it technology boot camp: teachers are learning how to use Chromebook laptops in place of textbooks.

AP Geography teacher Liliana Monk is already drafting lesson plans.

“They are on technology and using technology every single minute of the day, so to make learning part of technology would be fantastic,” Monk said.

As it stands, MCPS will roll out 40,000 laptops and tablets in August, for students in third, fifth and sixth grades. Students in high school social studies courses will use the devices, too, costing the school district a grand total of $15 million.

Parent Lyda Astrove says administrators have bigger problems, like unprecedented overcrowding.

“It’s so much money,” she said. “I’d like to see a very detailed proposal of why this has to be spent now.”

Opponents of the purchase are also concerned about productivity.

Last fall, the Los Angeles Unified School District nixed its plan to spend $1 billion on iPads, after some students stole the devices and others browsed inappropriate websites.

“Those are all issues that need to be addressed before we expand without a clear plan of where we’re going with the technology,” Astrove said.

MCPS says it has already taken these concerns into consideration.

Teachers say this technology will also allow them to video chat with students, helping them answer questions the night before a big exam, for example.

If all goes as planned, MCPS will own 100,000 devices by 2017.


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