The future: A Chromebook for every student by 2019


(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER) A student works on a Chromebook in class. All RJUHSD students will be issued their own personal Chromebook at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.


Next year, RJUHSD will provide sophomores and freshmen with new Chromebooks as a part of an initiative called Digital Equity in Learning, formerly known as One-to-One. The initiative aims to provide one Chromebook for every student for both home and in-class use, which they will keep throughout their high school career.

Current sophomores and juniors will continue using Chromebook carts next year. However, in two years, current sophomores will be able to take home some of the Chromebooks that are currently in carts. By the 2019-2020 school year, every student in the district, excluding those at Adelante High School, will have their own Chromebook.

RJUHSD administrators, such as assistant superintendent of business services Joe Landon, worked to determine how to implement Chromebooks in the classroom.

“We didn’t quite feel comfortable with the funding to do it with all four years and when we looked at just freshmen we came across a number of issues where you have a lot of classes that are freshmen and sophomores combined,” Landon said. “We really want the curriculum to be centered around the devices.”

The initiative passed at the April 10 board meeting, and the district purchased 5,500 Chromebooks at a total cost of $1,518,000, with another $750,000 entered in their budget in anticipation of Chromebooks for the next incoming class.

Students will receive their Chromebooks during picture day at the start of next school year. Similar to computers currently on campus, students will be expected to follow RJUHSD’s Acceptable Use Policy and the school firewall will apply to the Chromebooks.

In the event that students should damage their computers, the school will provide them with a temporary replacement while the Technology Department repairs it. Students may be subject to fines for the cost of repair. The district will work with administration to determine who is responsible for the damage.

“Similar to a textbook, you’re taking responsibility for that piece of equipment and making sure it’s in good shape,” Landon said.

In case of accidental damage or other occurrences, the district selected Worth Ave. Group as the insurance provider for the computers. According to RHS principal David Byrd, developers are looking into giving students the option to pay a warranty in case their Chromebook is damaged.

Landon believes the Digital Equity initiative will serve as a precursor to a more technology-based learning environment.

“It’s been a struggle, moving our curriculum and our content to be more digital, because we’re so used to the textbooks and the textbook companies are used to producing textbooks,” Landon said. “The goal is they could have all their content on their device so that’s something we hope we can focus on in the future.”

RHS principal David Byrd feels teachers must find a balance in using Chromebooks in the classroom.

“I don’t think we want to turn into a scenario where every single minute of every single period is all Chromebook, and I want to make sure we’re aware that it’s not the only way to learn,” Byrd said.

“That’s one extreme and extremes are never good; the other extreme is no days a week. We’ve got to find out what our goals are in the middle.”

In order to better prepare teachers for utilizing the new Chromebooks, the district plans to train them on how to use technology effectively in the classrooms.

English teacher Paul O’Brien believes Chromebooks have the potential to provide students a more student-centered, individualize learning experience if used to their fullest potential.

“It would be a pity if a Chromebook became just an electronic textbook or an old school slate chalkboard,” O’Brien said in an email. “We better make sure we are using these powerful tools innovatively to make the most of the very big investment the district has made.”

Math teacher Levi Fletcher predicts the initiative will not affect his students in the classroom, but will open up new opportunities for different assignments for students at home.

“The district’s done a lot of trying to get Chromebook access for math in particular, so I don’t know that in class it will change that much,” Fletcher said. “But I think being able to know that students will have access at home, now they can do something more than a worksheet.”

CTE teacher Bradlee Crockett believes Digital Equity will live up to its name for students in his computer science class.

“It’s going to level the playing field,” Crockett said. “I can see the difference between students that have access to computers at home and students that don’t and their ability to complete homework in a timely manner and do the extra practice it takes to get really good at programming.”

Freshman Lizeth Preciado looks forward to the Chromebooks next year as an opportunity to become more prepared for life outside of high school.

“It will be really interesting. It would also be new responsibility because Chromebooks are expensive,” Preciado said. “I’m hoping that [teachers] would give us more to do on the computer. Technology is really important in all the job industries so getting familiar with computers will really help our future.”

Byrd sees the initiative providing a unique learning experience for teachers as well as students.

“I think another really cool idea might be at some point in this process to get a bunch of kids together and have them design some curriculum and teach us a little bit of what the power of some of these tools would be,” Byrd said. “How often has that happened in education?”