Laptop overload | Richmond Free Press

Three months ago, Richmond’s school board was informed that the school system had enough Chromebooks to provide every student with a laptop “for years to come.”

Now, the board is being informed that Chief Inspector Jason Kamras’s administration plans to purchase at least 4,000 more Chromebooks using a newly awarded federal grant.

The board has yet to vote to accept the grant, according to its policy manual.

Behind the scenes, some are now questioning the proposed use of the $1.45 million the Federal Communications Commission is providing to Richmond’s school system through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which was created to help schools and libraries pay for the technology needed to operate virtually. learning to support.

Among them is the vice chairman of the board, Jonathan Young, 4th district, who expressed concern about adding unused Chromebooks to the store.

He questioned whether all the funds would be spent on that purchase, if grants from the fund could be used to meet a variety of technology needs, such as strengthening broadband service for college dorms or providing better access to wireless service.

According to him, the government’s focus on buying more laptops appears to be a disregard for “good management of taxpayers’ money”.

In response to a question from Free Press, RPS spokesperson Matthew Stanley stated, “As with all technology, there is a life cycle and we will need to replenish Chromebooks over time.

“We will wait as long as possible to buy new Chromebooks with this funding and have until December 2023 to do so,” added Mr. Stanley.

Chromebooks were a sore subject for RPS in the wake of a scathing audit released in June.

The audit found that nearly 11,000 laptops had never been properly registered in the inventory and could not be found, and another 1,700 had run away with students who had left the school system.

According to the internal audit, Richmond has purchased more than 44,000 Chromebooks since 2019, with the highest number, nearly 37,000, purchased since March 2020, when the pandemic hit and schools went virtual for two years.


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