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Leominster Begins Student Laptop Quest

January 23, 2019

LEOMINSTER -- An 18-month plan to provide students with new Chromebook laptop computers has begun. An appropriation request for $92,000 had already been sent to the City Council, according to Mayor Dean Mazzarella.

Mazzarella said the money would be used to purchase the first batch of 250 laptops, with the overall goal to provide each middle school and high school student with a Chromebook of their own.

“We’re not quite there, we’re maybe halfway there,” Mazzarella said.

The city’s schools have always been at the leading edge of technology, according to Mazzarella, and the Chromebooks represent the future of education.

“The possibilities are endless,” Mazzarella said. “You have your hour of instruction, but then after that there is so much more you can learn. The technology allows (every student) to find something that they’re interested in, because the information is so accessible.”

Mazzarella said the new technology meant that learning was not limited to just the classroom anymore.

“You can now watch an astronaut teach a class from NASA, or see an art exhibit in Rome -- anywhere in the world, it’s like you’re there,” Mazzarella said.

Presently, students are required to share laptops. Mazzarella said he was hopeful that having exclusive Chromebooks for each student would enhance their educational experience.

“For example, with MCAS coming up, the (high school) would have to borrow from the middle school,” Mazzarella said. “Under this scenario, with this first appropriation, they won’t have to borrow a Chromebook for their testing.”

Officials said the tentative plan was to allow high school students to keep the Chromebooks with them at all times, while students in the middle school would likely be required to turn their laptops in at the end of each school year.

Mazzarella said the city would purchase the new Chromebooks in phases, so as not to flood the schools with too many laptops at one time.

“We’ll get the first 250, let them get set up, make sure they have the bandwidth to handle it, and then the next appropriation will bring in another batch,” Mazzarella said.

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