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Introducing PLEAT: The Pequot Lakes Educational Access to Technology Program

posted Jan 12, 2016, 9:01 AM by Brenda Williams
Our 2020 Vision for Pequot Lakes Schools

Pequot Lakes Schools’ 2020 vision provides each student with a rigorous, relevant and personalized learning experience. This vision is meant to ensure that every student is college and career ready with the knowledge and skills needed in today’s 21st century work environment. A personalized learning experience requires differentiating instruction in order to provide instruction tailored to each student’s particular needs. Students’ gateway to much of this curriculum is often via a computer at school but what about access at home? In order to meet our mission, students should have access to technology both at school and at home as a means to learn, collaborate, innovate, and be creative.

In order to tackle this issue and as a component of the District strategic plan, Pequot Lakes Schools conducted a year-long study of options for creating and sustaining 1:1 technology access for students. This study was meant to address how the district could both provide the initial wave of devices and financially sustain the program for years to come. The sustainability issue has been a major hurdle for other districts as they deal with unforeseen budget shortfalls or financial uncertainty. We wanted to ensure that any program begun would be constructed in such a way that it could be enacted within the current budget and would not require overwhelming increases to future years’ budgets in order to sustain it.

The PLEAT Program

The district examined three options including purchasing student devices, leasing devices, or moving to a partnership model whereby the district would contribute to substantially reducing the cost for families wanting to purchase a laptop. In the end, only the partnership model provided a manageable and sustainable framework for 1:1 technology access in this district.

The Pequot Lakes Educational Access to Technology (PLEAT) program aims to provide eligible families the opportunity to purchase a laptop for their student’s educational use at a greatly reduced cost. With this model, the district can use a portion of its technology funding to greatly increase technology access while still living within its budget. With most parents in the market for an educational computer at some point, they now have the opportunity to purchase a device at less than half the cost at a store. The PLEAT program is optional; the district will continue to provide laptops for student use during school hours.

Students currently in 6th grade and 9th grade are eligible for this year’s purchasing window opening on February 1st. Families in these grades will receive information on how to purchase a Chromebook via the special webstore from our PLEAT program partner, Best Buy. Next year will follow an annual purchase cycle beginning each fall with students entering grades 6, 9, and 12 eligible. Limiting PLEAT eligibility to these grades provides a manageable integration of devices while setting up a reasonable device lifespan of 3 years.

Why Chromebooks?

Since the fall of 2013, Pequot Lakes Schools have invested heavily in Chromebooks as the primary educational device for students. The district has several carts of Chromebooks currently in use in each building which students have been using for daily work for 3 years, so there is no learning curve for students or staff for PLEAT program devices.

Chromebooks provide a great deal of value for families in that they are easy to use, require no maintenance or additional software to buy, natively integrate educational tools used in the district like Google Apps, and are much more affordable than Mac or Windows laptops.

In today’s digital age, providing a device for students to learn and do school work is a necessity for all parents at some point. Pequot Lakes Schools is proud to partner with families to provide an economical means for this reality that will help our students actualize the district’s 2020 Vision of rigorous, relevant and personalized learning experiences.

For complete information on the district’s PLEAT program, please visit our website (www.isd186.org) and click the PLEAT link under News & Media.

-- Kevin Furst, Technology Integration Coordinator 
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