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Board of Education Votes to Lease Laptops to High School Students

Daniel Ng via Flickr

Columbia high school students will have new take-home laptops to complete their schoolwork.

The Columbia Board of Education approved a four-year lease agreement Monday to provide more than 5,000 students with Dell laptops.

Jonathan Sessions, a board member re-elected last week, said technology in high school classrooms is a necessity.

“Many of the books that we read and teach in the public schools are in the public domain,” Sessions said. “We no longer have to buy books for all of our students when they can download the PDF and read it on their tablets, or in the case, these laptops they're kind of tablet laptop hybrids.”

The laptops are worth $554 and include four-year warranties, according to the agreement. Sessions also said that leasing instead of buying these laptops makes financial sense.

“We were offered an amazing lease rate to defer the cost. This is a large initial purchase because we'll continue to maintain the technology,” Sessions said. “It helps to further that initial purchase cost over four years. The interest rate is low, and there’s no penalty for early payoff.”

Leasing the computers will cost the district more than $3 million over the next four years, according to Sessions.

Columbia Board of Education elected Darin Preis as the new president Monday. Preis is also the executive director of Central Missouri Community Action. He said using these laptops for assignments will help students become successful in the workforce and in post-secondary education.

“We will have lots of opportunities over the summer to make sure that teachers are comfortable with the new devices and able to either transition from their previous practices or add to those practices by having these new tools onboard,” Preis said.