UCF board continues debate over Chromebooks

Board member questions whether parents should have to pay

By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times


Although the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District is moving toward standardizing on Chromebooks — like the unit pictured above — for students in sixth through 12th grades, who pays for them, and how they will be used remains a question.

EAST MARLBOROUGH – On Monday night, the Unionville Chadds Ford School District continued the on-going debate on whether to supply each student – to take home and therefore charge a fee, or use within the classrooms only – Chromebook devices.

The Curriculum Council held a meeting prior to the work session dedicated to this topic and discussed the pros and cons with teachers and administrators. The two and a half year Chromebook pilot results were presented in detail and reported back to the board.

Board member Carolyn Daniels informed the board that the recommendation from the Curriculum Council is to provide every student in middle and high school with a Chromebook and every course would use an online Learning Management System (LMS) for organizational purposes, as well as using the Canvas technology to enhance participation and learning.

“This is just the beginning. There are many conversations to come,” said Daniels.

Superintendent of schools John Sanville added, “We’re not going to rush through this. We need to find out how we’re going to finance it. That’s not something we’re going to make a decision on without taking some time and discussion and thought.”

“We need to make a commitment to the process,” Vic Dupuis added. He mentioned that technology will continuously change and the district needs to make it work.

“We have the capacity to make it work and to make it work well,” Sanville stated.

Board member Gregg Lindner voiced his concerns about a proposal to charge families a $75 fee in order to keep district costs down and that could mean a substantial fee to those families who are impacted with three children in sixth to 12th grades that would have to pay each year times each child.

“The issue is not the program but the costs,” said Dupuis. He recommended that March be the month to talk about finances and the possibility of a technology or insurance fee for each Chromebook.

The board heard from Unionville High School students, Alice Liu and Matt Daniels, regarding the delayed start time study with the Chester County Student Forum – a county-wide initiative to propose the benefits of pushing back the middle school and high school start time of 7:30 a.m. The benefits of doing so involve increased academic performance and attentiveness in class with more sleep time and less tardiness. Some of the obstacles with making the proposed plan feasible are extracurricular activities, child care issues, busing issues, the effect on faculty, and the opinions of the community.

The next step is the formulation phase to consider various for the delayed start and possibly reducing small amounts of time during the day to absorb the delay. A proposed plan is possible by spring that will then be delivered to the Chester County Board of Education.

The status of decile rankings as part of the college application process was reviewed by Daniels. The recommendation to not include the rankings was seen favorably at a parent meeting and a parent letter went out explaining the process. The board will vote to incorporate this new policy at the next meeting or in March.

Next month for board consideration is purchasing new software to use as a budget tool and as a comparison tool of other schools and national testing results. The initial cost for the robust product is $13,000 and then $10,000 for each subsequent year. Board member Robert Sage cautioned the board to demo the product prior to purchase.

“We do compare ourselves quite often and we see it a lot in financial and test scores,” Sanville said.

In the nature of transparency, the board will be reviewing the 12 survey comments regarding the 2016-2017 school calendar. Last month these comments were overlooked so the board wants to revisit them to ensure that all issues were addressed.

One of the board goals this year is to administer school climate surveys for students, staff and parents that would generate results-driven reports. The cost of this initiative is approximately $8,000. It will be voted on at the next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on Monday, February 22, at 7:30 p.m. All board documents can be viewed on www.ucfsd.org.

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  1. TE Resident says:

    Please read:


    “”””We had “half a dozen kids in a day, on a regular basis, bringing laptops down, going ‘my books fell on top of it, somebody sat on it, I dropped it,’ ” said Crocamo.We bought laptops that had reinforced hard-shell cases so that we could try to offset some of the damage these kids were going to do,” said Crocamo. “I was pretty impressed with some of the damage they did anyway. Some of the laptops would come back to us completely destroyed.”

    Hoboken school officials were also worried they couldn’t control which websites students would visit. Crocamo installed software to block pornography, gaming sites and Facebook. He disabled the built-in web cameras. He even installed software to block students from undoing these controls. But Crocamo says students found forums on the Internet that showed them how to access everything. “”””””””


    “””””””””””While the school district has settled the case, for $610,000, the Robbins want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s children.”””””””””””””””””””””

    These are only two examples of the disastrous unintended consequences of an initiative like this.

    Thank-you for taking your time. Thank-you for you 2 1/2 year pilot study. Thank-you for the financial consideration when analyzing cost and true benefit for this project.

    Students already pay out of pocket for parking fees, activity fees, etc. and tax payers are asked to endure increases year in and year out. Is this really worth it? You’re already number 1 in many polls.

    What does this mean?
    “We have the capacity to make it work and to make it work well,” Sanville stated.

    Please consider:


  2. Sandy Beach says:

    While I applaud the district’s efforts to stay current with technology and online resources, I think monies would be better spent on increasing staffing to allow for more support in the elementary schools and district office. Specifically, reinstate a few key positions at the district office that have been cut over the last few years and assumed by current staff who now wear multiple hats….some as many as Bartholomew Cubbins! Psychologists are shared between elementary schools, and instructional support positions are part-time in 3 out of the 4 schools. In order to have students achieve grade level reading and math benchmarks, early intervention is critical. Additional staffing is sorely needed to give timely and intensive instruction so that young students experience success early on and don’t become frustrated. Classroom teachers do everything that is humanly possible, but the curriculum is intense, fast paced, and there are only so many hours in the day. Some children need a different type of instruction, a slower pace, more repetitions, a smaller class size, and/or a combination of all of the above. Given those types of support, they can and do learn and actually master skills faster and beyond their grade level peers within a 1-2 year window. In addition to addressing academic concerns, psychologists and support personnel often play an instrumental role when intervening with and supporting students who have social and emotional difficulties. These responsibilities can be significant and often impact other duties and requirements of the jobs. After staffing needs have been addressed, then consider chrome books. Thank you!

    • TE Resident says:

      Agree with Sandy Beach. I believe TE should address academic concerns before launching an expensive, unproven initiative like this. The “Achievement Center” is where kids in CHS go for extra help and tutoring during free periods. It is frequently packed with every seat taken with 2 tutors. The tutors rely on other students to help and sometimes need their knowledge in Math and Science to help other students.

      Since kids are motivated, want to learn and eager to seek out extra help on their own, resources should be allocated to hiring tutors to start another “Achievement Center” so every student in the school knows they have a place to go for extra help anytime they need it.

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