Laptops for fewer, at least for now

HISD’s proposed laptops for all proposal has been scaled back from an 18 school pilot to a ten school pilot in response to concerns that they weren’t quite ready yet for anything bigger than that.

Lenny Schad, chief technology officer for the Houston Independent School District, told the school board via email this week that consultants recently concluded HISD’s technological capacity wasn’t yet sufficient to dole out that many laptops. The review, he said, found that the bandwidth was lacking, and current staff wouldn’t be able to support the increased network demand.

In late April, Schad told the board that he hoped to start the laptop program at up to 18 high schools, but that the number depended on further analysis of the district’s readiness. Schad said he and his staff agree with the consultants’ recommendation to scale back to 10 schools, which would amount to more than 17,400 laptops for students and teachers.

The proposed campuses (at least one in each trustee’s area) are Sam Houston, Kashmere, Chavez, Bellaire, Sharps­town, Lee, Austin and Madison high schools, the all-boys school and the all-girls school. The single-gender campuses, which serve middle school students, already have a one-to-one technology program, according to HISD spokesman Jason Spencer.

“Implementing at 10 high schools will provide HISD with a good user base to ensure our plan and strategy is tested,” Schad said in his email to the school board.

This will likely knock the initial price tag down from $10 million to something smaller, though HISD did not provide a figure at this time. In my previous entry on this, I got some feedback asking how HISD was going to be able to service all this new equipment; I think we now have an answer to that concern. Better to start a little smaller than you originally hoped than too big and not be able to handle it.

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