Freshman computers delayed until February

Benjamin Chait and Diedre de Leeuw

Freshmen are going to have to wait until at least February to receive personal computers from DCPS. Despite plans to issue the laptops in the fall of 2019, implementation problems and a lack of funding from the DC Council have delayed the distribution.

The initiative, named the One-to-One initiative, was put in place to give all students equitable opportunities to access technology for educational purposes. About 77 percent of DCPS students were identified as coming from low-income families last school year, so with the new initiative in place, all students will have equal access to it. 

Even though DCPS has passed the initiative, “there’s a big difference between passing policy and actually implementing the policy,” English teacher Natalie Zuravleff said.

DCPS doesn’t yet have an insurance policy to cover the computers, so the computers would not be allowed to be taken home. Instead, each student would have to get the computer at the beginning of the day from a morning class and return it at the end of the day. “Having the entire freshman class going to one room before and after school would completely uproot our schedule halfway through the year,” Zuravleff said.

Principal Kimberly Martin said that instead of giving out personal computers, “they’re going to be distributed to all ninth-grade teachers… it’ll be like a class set.” However, Assistant Principal Steven Miller said that only some non-core class teachers would get computer sets. 

Additionally, there has been a delay in the distribution of computers. Miller said he does “still think it’s gonna happen in the spring,” and that the delay is because “the DC Council just needs to release the funds, they have to do a final vote” that would allow DCPS to purchase the computers.

Some are concerned about damage students could do to the computers, especially without an insurance policy. “Students will misuse the computers to surf the internet and do things they’re not supposed to be doing,” Science teacher Hallie Eichen said. Tech problems could also overwhelm Willson’s tech support staff. Six hundred new computers would require more Information Technology staff that, according to Miller, the school has yet to hire.

However, Miller says that “the final vote was supposed to be on the agenda for the first week of December to be approved,” and that’s what the estimate of February was based on, but it was adjourned for a further date because as DCPS Deputy Press Secretary Ashlynn Profit says, “a large procurement like this takes time to process.”

“Once it is approved, it’s four to eight weeks before the computers get to the school, then we probably need two weeks to turn it around and assign them to all the right places and number them and all that stuff,” Miller added. 

Despite the holdup, the computers will likely come this year, Deputy Press Secretary Profit said, “DCPS expects to make an announcement soon about when students will receive their devices.”