Most RSS students will keep issued devices during summer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 12, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools has issued more devices to students than ever because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and it has to collect them for sale as it makes way for its newest fleet.

The district is currently in the process of selling its technology via the upset bid process. The current highest bid just under $3 million. The process now enters another round where bidders would have to be at least $3.1 million to upset the previous bidder. The process stops when there are no higher bidders. And there are other factors in the process such as financial security involved with selecting a bidder, said Chief Technology Officer David Blattner.

Collecting the devices at the end of a three-year lease cycle would normally be simplified by students physically coming to schools with the devices they use for classes, but schools are closed and the district is taking on a special collection effort where it will take devices from seniors and students who know they will not be returning while allowing the other students to keep the devices over summer break.

Blattner outlined the plan for the RSS Board of Education during its Monday night meeting

When seniors come to collect caps and gowns, they will drive up and drop off their devices in the same place. The number of students who are not graduating and also not returning is small compared to the number of graduates, and the district can take other actions to try and collect devices that do not find their way back through the disbursement days.

The devices all say “property of Rowan-Salisbury Schools” on startup, and Blattner said they can be remotely disabled. So it would not work for someone who wanted to keep it for personal use, which he noted tends to help the devices find their way back to the district.

Blattner also made a point of saying the plan’s impact on device resale should be low, and students who have advanced placement exams to take or work that has to be finished on the devices can hold on to them until they are finished. Allowing returning students to keep the devices will also allow the district to stay in touch and encourage students to learn over the summer.

“There was a community connection issue that we thought was important,” said Superintendent Lynn Moody.

The technology department will still provide support as well, though the hours will be scaled back. The hope is delaying collection of most of the devices will also be a positive for the safety of students and families.

Blattner said a full-scale collection of all devices would be a similar amount of time and exposure to when devices were distributed in March.

Students will be incentivized to bring devices back when they return as well so they can be swapped for newer models.

Moody said there is some risk involved, but the district believes it is the best plan.

The district recently entered a new lease agreement with Apple. While the contract was already on the table, the district was also facing possibly not being able to refresh its devices due to impending global electronics shortages due to COVID-19 shuttering manufacturing plants in China if it did not approve the contract

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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