Knox County Schools
Knox County board meeting

Knox County (Tenn.) board looks at acquisition of 60,000 laptops

May 7, 2020
The district has proposed using federal coronavirus relief funds to provide technology devices to every student.

A plan to lease laptops next year for every student in the Knox County (Tenn.) district has support  among school board members, but several questions were raised about carrying out such a plan. 

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the board is scheduled to vote next week on a $7 million proposal to acquire 60,000 devices.

The district developed the plan comes after schools closed in March because of the coronavirus, and educators had to carry out a distance-learning plan that relied on packets that were not mandatory or graded. 

Funding for the plan in 2020-21 would come from coronavirus emergency funds, but in future years, would need to be built into the budget.

Board members expressed concerned about making a long-term funding commitment for technology, how the district would train teachers to use the technology, and whether adequate internet access was in place so that the laptops could connect online.

Superintendent Bob Thomas emphasized that becoming a one-computer-per-student district will not replace the teachers in Knox County. Devices will instead be used to enhance learning, and continue learning when schools need to closed.

"Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we believe it’s important to prepare for the possibility of closing again in the fall," Thomas says.

Jon Rysewyk, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, says that some aspects of learning are likely to change, but others will stay the same, especially for young students.

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