At the February 28th workshop, Hernando County School District (HCSD) officials heard a presentation by Network Coordinator Walter Paschke on the implementation of the “One to One Device” program, where every student in the Hernando County public school system will receive a laptop to be used for their studies in the 2022-2023 school year.
So far, 3691 devices have been issued to K-8 schools, 2828 devices to middle schools, and 2764 devices to high schools. Distribution to elementary schools is still in progress. Feedback from educators have been reported as positive, with some teachers using the devices in up to 40 percent of their classroom activity.
According to the presentation, the need for such a program became evident during the beginning of the pandemic, when some students were unable to access online classrooms or materials due to a lack of network or hardware access. Paschke said that the school district is addressing the issue, “Not because we believe there is another pandemic coming, but to even the playing field for all students.” He added that other factors could lead to education disruption, including a natural disaster, or school closure.
Paschke reported that results of a parent survey also showed that digital equipment was the answer to the best use of government funding. In a video shown during the presentation, students reported inadequate devices and network access as their primary challenges in trying to keep up with their assignments.
Two federally funded grants are paying for the total $13,663,500 cost of the laptops. The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) provides $6,267,600, and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III) has awarded $7,385,900. Both of these funds are part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.
The cost of each device is approximately $524.50, and includes a break-fix, accidental damage warranty. The bid-winning devices are HP (Hewlett-Packard) ProBook x360 11 EE Notebooks, that include an 11.6-inch touchscreen, 128 gigabytes of storage, four gigabytes of memory and wired, wireless and bluetooth connectivity.
Each device is managed by the HCSD, and monitored in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). This law, enacted in 2000 and requires in part that schools filter and monitor students’ online activities, and educate students on appropriate online behavior.
This county’s school district uses ContentKeeper as the internet filtering software that works both on and off campus. ClassLink is a single sign-on layer for web and Windows applications, and file access. One2One Manager is the inventory tracking system that secures and tracks the fleet of devices, and manages repairs.
In addition to procuring one laptop for each student, HCSD has sourced an additional 27,000 replacement devices through a competitive bid process. A kiosk will be available at each school where students can quickly trade in nonfunctional equipment for an immediate replacement. The FUYL Tower 15 model is cloud-controlled, accessible by code or ID badge, and is also used to charge devices.
No one from the public commented on this item at the workshop. School Board member Shannon Rodriguez was the only one to comment, expressing concern over student’s eyesight being negatively affected by screen usage.
“I hope that (electronic devices) are not being abused… that is my hope for these children, for their eyesight because that could be alarming. None of us know it until time creeps up and then all the sudden we realize they all have problems with their vision, so that’s one drawback.”