Quaker Valley taking a bite out of Apple; plans to add Dells, Chromebooks

Bobby Cherry
| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 7:24 a.m.

Move over, Apple.

Next school year, students across Quaker Valley School District will use a variety of computers as leaders shift away from predominantly Mac-based devices, adding Dells and Google Chromebooks.

School directors in March approved spending $559,500 for a four-year lease on 1,173 computers, and purchasing 500 Chromebooks with insurance and carrying cases.

Leased computers include 490 Dells, 428 MacBook Airs, 205 MacBook Pros and 50 iMacs. Quaker Valley had used mostly Apple computers since about 2001.

Most of the MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros and iMacs will be used by staff and administration.

Students in the Class of 2014 will continue using MacBooks that are part of a previous lease agreement.

School board member Danielle Burnette, who voted against the technology spending, said she had concerns about the number and type of computers purchased, but praised the addition of PCs.

“It's great that we're bringing Dell, finally, to the high school,” she said.

“In the real world, PC is what is used. I know Apple has kind of the turf on this over time, but Apple is what is used for artsy programs — when you wanted cooler functions and media.”

Burnette said she also wanted to see PCs in the elementary school.

When the Chromebooks arrive, middle school students won't be able to take them home, but Burnette said she was concerned that eventually the computers will be offered for take-home use.

“I'm hesitant to give a middle schooler a Chromebook” along with its carrying case, she said.

“I know right now they don't take them home, but by giving them the carrying case it makes me feel that we're going to be giving them that option to carry it home and I don't think middle schoolers are responsible enough to do that.”

Middle school Principal Sean Aiken said teachers and students in sixth through eighth grades have increased their use of Google Drive — an online-based document storage system with applications similar to Microsoft Office and Apple's iWork.

Students and teachers in the middle school have been using Google Drive on Apple computers.

High school Principal Andrew Surloff said the switch to Dells won't mean a loss of applications or software.

“Very little of what the high school students do is Mac-specific — other than maybe … iMovie, which Windows Movie Maker does the same thing,” he said.

Surloff said the school would love to move toward more online textbooks.

But student Meredith Malcolm said she prefers a textbook to online-only materials.

“I always ask for a regular book,” she said, adding that it is difficult for her to take notes on material she is reading online.

Director of Technology Karlton Chapman said the district likely won't need to spend additional money upgrading software, aside from a planned update to Microsoft Office.

Chapman said school officials are looking at “Chrome apps for the Chromebook; many of which are free of charge. There should be very little, if any, cost for Chrome apps.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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