Computers Feinstein (copy)

Xavier Baker works on a math problem on a Chromebook when he was a fourth-grader last September at Attleboro’s Willett Elementary School.

ATTLEBORO — The city’s school system is about to embark on an ambitious program of supplying all middle and high school students with a laptop computer.

The program is similar to those instituted in surrounding school districts, such as North Attleboro, which bought laptops for students last year.

Superintendent David Sawyer said it will begin the week of Sept. 16 when high school freshmen start getting Chromebooks — a Google laptop.

Later the laptops will be distributed to fifth graders.

Next year more computers will be handed out.

Sawyer said the department already has about 1,000 computers, but they are not nearly enough.

It is ineffective to have a teacher sign-out a cart full of computers for classroom use rather than have devices readily available, he said.

He said the computers should make teaching more interactive and efficient.

Teachers have been getting instruction on how best to use computers in the classroom, he said, because having a tool only helps if the tool is used correctly.

Sawyer said the school system realized years ago it had to upgrade its technology when teachers came back from training sessions on teaching Advanced Placement and said they do not have the technology needed to best conduct those classes.

Since that time, the schools worked to upgrade their technology infrastructure to give better access to the internet and then started spending more on computers.

The drive for more computers was also aided by a group called Blue Pride Ambassadors, which raised money for computers at the high school.

Marc Furtado, the school department finance director, said about 1,000 computers are being leased, costing $75,000, or $300,000 over the four years.

The price includes maintenance, setup, and Google management system, he said.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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