Carroll ISD is looking to refresh its technology through districtwide device purchases and updates.

The refresh includes replacing noninstructional staff desktops and staff laptops older than five years as well as all projectors at Carroll High School, and installing additional safety bells and public address systems. The total cost is estimated at nearly $1.2 million, according to district documents.

The board of trustees approved the plan at a special meeting March 4.

The details

The approved plan deviated slightly from the options that Executive Director for Technology Randy Stuart brought before the board at the Feb. 26 and March 4 meetings, which also included purchasing iPads for third graders and Chromebooks for fifth and sixth grade. The iPads are slated to reach the end of their lifecycle in June and would no longer be eligible for software updates, Stuart said. However, the board tabled those items for further discussion until the regular meeting at the end of the month.

Last year the state mandated that districts provide devices for students and barred using any personal devices during standard assessments, according to the Texas Education Agency. This means that third graders poised to take the STAAR test this year will need district devices, but the board advocated that they share the iPads purchased for fourth grade as an alternate cost-saving measure that still complies with the state. If the district follows through with the decision, it would need to adjust the exam schedule so that third and fourth grades test on different days, Stuart said.

“If you have less devices to test on, then you have to spread the STAAR test out over more days, so you have more days distracted from instruction,” he said.

More details

The Chromebook replacement was tabled so that the board could deliberate on two possible options. The district would either replace the devices for fifth and sixth grade and transfer their current devices to ninth and 10th graders, who are working on the oldest technology, or it would shift 11th and 12th graders to a bring-your-own-device system and transfer their current devices down to ninth and 10th grade. While the latter saves more money, the former ensures better security, Stuart said.

Feedback from students, teachers, principals and other staff advised against a bring-your-own-device system because safety measures are harder to control, Stuart said. With the Chromebooks’ simple operating systems, the district can implement protection systems, such as internet filters, classroom screen monitoring and self harm alerting. Personal devices may allow students to circumvent some of these assurances.

Zooming in

The district determined that Carroll High School had the greatest need for projector replacement since its devices are the oldest among the campuses. The projectors were installed between 2018 and 2019 with 2017 bond funds.

“We are seeing a consistent and persistent increase in failure rates of displays,” Stuart said.

Rather than replacing the entire apparatus, including the ceiling mount, video switch and other hardware, the district will focus on the projectors specifically that are seeing the most malfunctions. After the replacement, the district will then harvest any working projectors and disburse them among other campuses as failures arise until another complete replacement is required, Stuart said.

Over time, all projectors and displays would be replaced districtwide, but the current plan alleviates the burden of an $8 million bill that accompanies replacing all devices in one instance by breaking it up over a longer period, he said. The Carroll High School projector refresh is estimated to cost $141,400.

“This [plan] tells me how hard the technology team is working to save this district money,” board Vice President Andrew Yeager said.

Also of note

Additionally, the district installed safety bells and public address systems in all classrooms across the district as part of the 2017 bond. However, some breakout, work and conference rooms that were more open spaces did not receive the systems and instead relied on ones installed in nearby hallways, Stuart said.

Under CISD’s new security measures, all classroom doors remain locked throughout the day, preventing students and staff in those spaces from hearing emergency communications, Stuart said. As a result the district has allotted $70,000 to install systems in these spaces ensuring safety and security.

“We tried to put this into a couple different safety and security grants, but it just didn’t fit with the requirements,” he said.