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A Chromebook for every student

The Picayune School District received 2,960 Chromebooks Wednesday, enough for every student in the district.

The Chromebooks were purchased using CARES Act money allocated by the Enhancing Distance Learning Act, said Picayune School District Technology Coordinator Freddie Parker. The Legislature has allocated $200 million to purchase tools for distance learning.

Along with computers for students to use, the district also purchased 250 Windows computers so that every teacher in the district will have a laptop to use. In every classroom there will be a set of 30 Chromebooks.

The new computers come with a three year onsite warranty, a protective case and a web filter.

CARES Act funding had to be used before the end of the year. The Mississippi Department of Education put together technology options that the district could order from, said Parker, which was useful because it is difficult to purchase Chromebooks currently as school districts across the country update their technology. The state of Mississippi alone has ordered 380,000 of the devices, he said.

For the Picayune School District the new computers are a significant update and mean that every school in the district will have plenty of new computers, said Parker. Some of the schools in the district already had many computers, while others had few. Classrooms with desktop computers frequently had a small number of computers in the class because of the amount of space that a desktop takes up.

“This is like a one time shot in the arm for education,” said Parker. “This is a game changer in how teachers teach and students will learn.”

Superintendent Dean Shaw said he was very grateful to MDE and the state Legislature.

“Our students and Picayune School District will benefit greatly,” said Shaw.
State Representative Stacey Hobgood-Wilkes was present when the Chromebooks were initially supposed to be dropped off on Tuesday.

“I’m glad to see our community be able to benefit from CARES Act funds,” she said.

Any of the CARES Act funds that are not spent by the end of the year will go back into the unemployment fund, said Wilkes.

The district has also been allocated CARES Act funding to improve Internet access, which it will do by increasing the WiFi signal on school buildings, so that students can access school WiFi from any school parking lot. The district looked into using the funding to pay for home Internet access for students who do not have it, but was legally unable to do so because the district is not allowed to prepay for services, said Parker.