The Cranberry Eagle
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Article published April 15, 2013

Mars will supply students computers

Paula Grubbs
Cranberry Eagle

ADAMS TWP — The Mars School Board has taken the first step toward a total change in learning at the high school.

The board voted Tuesday night to lease 1,150 student and 75 staff laptop computers so each student in grades nine through 12 will be assigned his own computer for next school year.
Superintendent William Pettigrew recommended the move, which he said is the result of two years of discussion and work by district officials.
“This initiative is important because we are taking a look at how we are going to bring the school district into the 21st Century as far as technology is concerned,” Pettigrew said.
The cost for the computers is not to exceed $280,000 per year. Pettigrew said the district would enter into a three-year lease agreement with Lenova Financial Services, which will provide the district with the computers and software.
Pettigrew said the ultimate plan is for the district eventually to go completely paperless, with all textbooks, writing projects, communications and instruction done on the computers.
“It’s a wholesale change from what we’re currently doing, and we feel it’s a change for the better,” Pettigrew said.
In answer to questions from parents and teachers, Pettigrew said certain restrictions will be placed on student computers, all software downloads must be approved by school officials, and that neither students nor staff computers will be for personal use.
He said students who experience problems with their computers will be able to take their unit to the library, where a member of the district’s technology department will evaluate and potentially fix the problem.
Regarding responsibility for the computers if it were lost, stolen or damaged, Pettigrew said the agreement to be signed by the student, parent and district official is being assessed by the district’s attorney and is not yet available.
Pettigrew and school board President Dayle Ferguson stressed that parents would be notified of the contents of the agreement when it is approved.
Mars parent and teacher Chris Petrini, who will have two children at the high school next year, said she is concerned that the district is investing in “physical resources, not human resources.”
She said while the program may be a good one, she can’t help but remember the painful decisions made during the past few budget years.
‘I don’t want my children to lose other programs in favor of this,” Petrini said.
After the meeting, Pettigrew said that the program would be funded from the budget’s general fund, and would not necessitate a tax increase or a decrease in other programs.
He said there are no plans to expand the one-on-one computer program into any other school buildings.