All Haverhill Middle and High School Students Will Use Chromebooks Next Year

Chromebooks, similar to what is shown here, are used by Haverhill students. (Courtesy photograph.)

Every high and middle school student will have access to Chromebooks during the next school year, Haverhill School Committee members decided Thursday night.

Money to pay for the cloud-based computers comes from $200,000 set aside for schools during a budget compromise almost a year ago. School Committee member Richard J. Rosa made the case for the purchase after consulting with school Superintendent Margaret Marotta. He said members intentionally waited to draw down the money.

“Attorney (Paul A.) Magliocchetti, Ms. (Gail M.) Sullivan and I always believed we should wait until the close of the year to make sure we didn’t need the money for some sort of emergency,” Rosa said.

He said the money would pay a three-year-lease with the schools paying $1 to keep them afterwards. Rosa said the computers are necessary for MCAS testing and math exercises.

The $200,000 was set aside late last June when city councilors voted 5-4 to tentatively approve Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s $195 million spending plan. Councilors narrowly supported the plan only after the mayor agreed to add a little more than $1 million in new spending. Of that amount, Fiorentini pledged $150,000 towards a request for an additional $425,000 in school spending. The mayor agreed to up that amount $50,000 after Councilor Melinda E. Barrett proposed cutting the mayor’s tree planting budget by the same total.

However, the year in between took a toll on some memories. Fiorentini at first said the money should remain in the school’s rainy-day fund, but relented when Rosa reminded him of the compromise. While member Scott W. Wood Jr. voted for buying Chromebooks, he thought the city should set aside money for those unusual special education expenses that have broken the budget previously.

“So, one-time money on a lease, I’m not sure is fiscally prudent either because the expense is going to be for more than a one-time expense. Technology says six to seven years maybe, but you’re going to have to get new ones at a point and then you’re going to have to re-up a lease. It’s certainly one-time money for fixed costs for the foreseeable future,” Wood said.

Release of the money to the schools still requires approval from the City Council.

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