POSTED: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 4:48pm
UPDATED: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 10:02am
The Bullard I.S.D. program to supply laptop computers for every student has generated a little controversy lately thanks to one angry parent.
Bullard superintendent Keith Bryant wasn’t available last week for our interview with district parent, Gary Miller.
But he was today and anxious to take on Miller’s complaints.
The Bullard School district has an ambitious goal.
"About 3 years ago,” Bryant says, “we began a study of the feasibility of having Macbook computers issued to students. And now we're in the 3rd year of doing it in the district. And they are available to all students."
And they aren’t cheap.
They're $1000 apiece.
"But as for the expense,” he explained, “computers are expensive, there's no doubt. We have an insurance policy that has a $500 deductible."
But what about a parent of modest means for whom $500 comes pretty dear.
"If they have a demonstrated financial need, we cannot make them pay for damage,” Bryant told us. “That's the law. We have payment plans set up. Kids carry around everyday in their backpacks, about $500 in textbooks. It's almost the same amount of dollars it has been for years."
But if you drop a textbook, not much is going to happen. If you drop a $1000 computer you're on the hook for $500.
"You know that they are given protective cases,” he countered. “We tell the students, don't take the computer out of the case."
But if a parent opts out and doesn’t take a laptop and the liability that goes with it, won’t their child’s education suffer?
"We check out a Macbook to a teacher,” Bryant explained. She keeps it in her classroom. And that student who doesn't have a Macbook because his parents don't want him to, is allowed to access that Macbook during that class period. We do think the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and we'll continue to work through the negatives. And we hope to resolve those in a manner that parents are comfortable with and they understand."
Bryant also told us they had a total of 11OO computers issued and only 14 damaged last year.