Saturday July 31st, 2021 7:46AM

Tech inventoried, some missing ahead of Gainesville school year

By Alyson Shields Reporter

As Gainesville City Schools prepare to head back into the classroom, the technology loaned to students as part of last year's unusual school year has been inventoried.

As expected, some of the Chromebooks and other devices are missing, but it's a lower number than anticipated.

"Out of 4,000 that we distributed at the middle and high school, only 200 didn't come back," said Superintendent Jeremy Williams. "So it's a very small number, but the more we can get those devices the more we can recondition them and get them back out for this next school year."

In a presentation at Monday's school board meeting, Technology Director Jill Hobson shared the details of how much was missing, and what was missing.

336 were lost or damaged out of a total inventory of 14,753 devices. Those numbers include the newest devices, the HP Chromebooks 11G and Touch Chromebooks; Chromebooks to be dispositioned; Chromebooks for supplementary inventory; and Kajeet SmartSpot 8800 devices, a mobile hotspot.

Hobson said the Chromebooks that are set to be dispositioned are older models and cannot participate in state testing, while the Chromebooks to be kept for supplementary purposes will be used if a student forgets their Chromebook or a device fails.

Williams said roughly 8,000 devices were ordered last May to help serve their student population, with roughly half arriving by the time school started. He said all of the 6th through 12th grade students were equipped with a Chromebook.

"For us that was new, the first time all of the students received one, which also meant you knew you were going to run into some troubles getting about getting some of those back."

The majority of missing or damaged technology was at the high school, which Hobson said is their largest population and where they gave out the most Chromebooks. Williams also pointed out that over a four year span, 800 students are typically part of the cohort in the high school, which typically graduates 450 students. He believes that could pose a long-term challenge with getting devices back.

"I expect some of those are going to come back this fall, they weren't returned at the end of the year and therefore we still show them as a lost item," said Hobson. "But I expect some of those to show up as we get ready to start the year because Mr. [Jamie] Green and I have agreed if you have a lost Chromebook, you won't get another one until we settle that matter first, in one way or another, and I think that will probably encourage some of them to return."

The inventory was initially requested by school board member Sammy Smith. Smith asked if the devices are insured, and since they are not, if students who lost or damaged a device could pay for insurance on a new device. Hobson said she would look in to that as an option.

"It's a lot of money, which prompted my question to begin with," Smith said.

The depreciated value total of the devices missing, damaged, being dispositioned or being put into supplementary totaled $42,990.

A link to Hobson's presentation with all the numbers can be found here.

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