Back-to-school: Laptops are cheaper, better than textbooks, says school district

Aug 5, 2021, 9:52 AM


Photo: Adobe Stock

SALT LAKE CITY — Should Utah taxpayers have to pay for laptops for public school students again this year? A school district spokesman said it’s cheaper and better than buying schoolbooks.

Kids needed laptops last year at the drop of a hat because of the pandemic. A lot of parents found themselves without a laptop and in need to get one — pronto.

Back-to-school with D&D

Ben Horsley with the Granite School District joins Dave & Dujanovic to discuss the advantages of providing students with a free laptop.

He said laptops are a lot cheaper than textbooks, which is what they’re replacing.

“[With] a textbook back in the day, you couldn’t pull up a video that showed you how to solve the math problem,” Horsely said. “Let’s put it this way: What better peripheral skills are we teaching kids than how to use the tools that they’ll use in college and then their future career?”

Keeping the dark side out of reach

He said the state provides iBoss filtering preventing students from accessing inappropriate material on taxpayer-funded laptops.

“And then we have the ability to actually fine-tune that even further,” he said.

Chromebook laptops

“What kind of laptops do kids have and how much do they cost?” Dave asked.

Horsely said students are provided Chromebooks that are limited in memory and performance.

“They’re generally under $200, usually at the high end around $250,” he said.

No home computer? No problem

Most Granite Districts schools do not allow the kids to take laptops home. But students whose parents can’t afford laptops are allowed to take them home, Horsley said.

Horsley added that loss and damage to the laptops have been minimal, considering how many devices are shared.

“It’s less than 5 percent. Actually, kids do a pretty good job. Most of that was accidental,” he said.

New today:

Back to School: Spending expected to hit record highs

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Back-to-school: Laptops are cheaper, better than textbooks, says school district