More than 6,000 third- and seventh-graders in the Ysleta Independent School District will be receiving laptops next year.
The district is preparing for the five-year “Engage Me! One Vision…Infinite Possibilities” program that will eventually distribute about 20,000 laptops to students in third through eighth grades.
The program is part of the district’s 1:1 digital learning initiative that hopes to eventually provide each student with a digital device.
In the first year 6,200 students will receive an HP Stream for use.
Ramona Elementary School Principal Irene Medlin said the laptops will enhance the learning experience at her school. Beginning in the next school year, Ramona Elementary will transition to a pre-kindergarten through sixth grade school as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, based learning school.
“We’ll be focusing on project-based learning and STEM activities,” Medlin said.
The laptops will allow the students immediate access to the information they will need to complete projects and create presentations, she said.
Each classroom at Ramona has about five computers and there is a computer lab at the school for students to use.
“This will be like 22 computers in each classroom, it’s going to change learning,” she said. “This will mean immediate access (to technology) every day all day.”
Officials will have training sessions beginning in May with teachers, principals, parents and students to become familiar with the laptops and how to care for the new equipment as well as how to effectively use them to enhance learning.
“Once we give them out parents and kids will know how to deal with them,” said Rebecca “Becky” O’Neill, associate superintendent of elementary schools.
Students will receive their laptops in January.
YISD Superintendent Xavier De La Torre said the program falls in line with the district’s 2020 Vision Goals to have students prepared for 21st century learning and be college and career ready.
“We don’t think it’s a luxury, it’s a necessity,” he said.
He added that if students in this generation are not comfortable with technology at an early age they will be at a disadvantage.
Total cost of implementing the program is about $6 million.
De La Torre said the money will come from the district’s local funds and will be implemented regardless of whether voters approve the $451.5 million bond issue on the May 9 election.
The bond issue will help address the district’s aging facilities if passed.
De La Torre said the amount of money needed for the program is substantial, but not excessive.
Officials will closely monitor the progress of the students and make adjustments to programs as necessary. There will also be ongoing training for faculty and staff on how to make the best use of the technology.
The YISD is not the only district in El Paso to implement a technology for students program.
In December the Socorro Independent School District launched a pilot program to give freshmen students at Socorro High School Lenovo laptops to use throughout high school with an option to purchase the computer upon graduation.
The El Paso Independent School District also recently transitioned to digital textbooks as part of its bring your own device initiative.