Rowan-Salisbury Schools turns off still-uncollected devices

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 15, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — Anyone with an old iPad or MacBook air issued by Rowan-Salisbury Schools may have noticed they stopped working on Friday.

This was a deliberate cutoff by the district, which is still trying to collect or discover the fate of about 3,700 devices from students and has largely rolled out its new fleet of devices. One old iPad is $160 toward the district’s final sale price from Second Life Mac, a company that specializes in Apple device buybacks from education institutions and won a bid to purchase the outgoing devices for about $4.6 million.

Right now, collection is behind.

On Monday, Chief Technology Officer David Blattner told the district Board of Education about possible causes on Monday.

He said devices could have been replaced but not removed from the system or considered a total loss but not replaced. Students may have left the district and not turned devices in, devices could have been stolen but not marked on the list and it could be the cumulative loss of the three-year lease cycle.

Collection is still ongoing, and Blattner noted the district will still take in more for the sale than originally anticipated because of the demand for devices.

Another issue is the district let students keep devices over the summer, something it has not done before, and Superintendent Lynn Moody said it was expecting significant losses as a result.

This was also a non-traditional rollout and collection, adding the pandemic has made the process drag out longer than usual.

Board Vice Chair Travis Allen suggested the district, with no intention of charging students, use school resource officers to make home visits to try and collect some of the devices.

Blattner said the next steps will be to trace all serial numbers to account for no shows, transfers, repair tickets and the non-repairable list. He will bring a full report back to the board at a later meeting.

In other news from the meeting:

• The district changed supplemental sanitation services from Kelly Educational Staffing to the company Jani-King.

The board originally contracted with Kelly to provide the enhanced cleaning services it needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Kelly was only able to provide a handful of staff members when school began and required assistance from school staff.

Director of Construction Christopher Nuckolls said the district started negotiations with Jani-King two weeks into classes and contracted with the company short-term. The company has been able to send teams to each school for disinfection since the third week of classes. The new contract, paid for with CARES Act funding, is for about $445,000.

• Associate Superintendent Kelly Withers gave the board an update on the district’s enrollment status. Enrollment declined from last year, but is up from a previous report, to 18,447.

Withers showed the board metrics from a handful of previous years, which show an increasing number of local students attending charter and home schools.

Faith Academy, a prospective charter school, would provide another alternative to Rowan-Salisbury Schools. The academy board will go before the state Board of Education for final approval in December.

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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