Dear Lafayette families,
As distance learning approaches, many of our teachers are in need of new laptops to fully support our virtual classrooms. As an HSA Board, we are proposing that we use our reserve funds to support this expenditure. We are presenting a reserve spend down plan to purchase 60 computers for teachers.
We ask you to participate via virtual voting now by clicking here through Monday, August 17. We will also hold a special meeting on Monday, August 17, at 7pm via Zoom to answer any questions you may have. Voting will close at 9 pm on Monday, August 17.
Please see below for some FAQs outlining the proposed expenditure.
What’s the ask?
Lafayette needs new teacher laptops to support incoming new staff members (19 this year) as well as returning staff members who have older and outdated laptops. The ask is as follows:
- 60 touch screen laptops
- 8-16 GB RAM and 256 BG SSD
- $55,000 reserve spend authorization
We are looking at models with sufficient memory and processing speed to seamlessly run Teams and the other programs teachers will need to navigate distance learning. We are also looking at laptops that have a touch screen function which significantly enhances the learning experience, particularly for math.
Why doesn’t DCPS pay for that?
At the moment, DCPS is in between fiscal years, meaning this year’s funds are frozen for accounting and next year’s funds are not released for expenditures until after October 1. While DCPS funded 23 new staff laptops in December, we now have 19 new staff members joining us and another 41 with outdated/broken laptops.
Why don’t we wait until October 1?
We certainly could but the computers would not arrive until the end of October or later and we would miss out on two critical months of distance learning.
What about computers for students?
We have more than 400 devices available for students to check out. Please fill out this technology form if your household needs to check out a laptop: Laptop Request Form
Why don’t the teachers use one of the 400 new student laptops?
The student laptops don’t have sufficient memory and processing speed for what the teachers need to be able to run the software and applications used for the classroom. The student machines are also smaller and have more limited functions.
Can teachers use their own computers?
To fully access the DCPS platforms and tech support, teachers need to use DCPS issued and imaged computers, not personal computers. Although the HSA would purchase the computers, they will be donated to Lafayette, imaged with the DCPS security and become part of the DCPS asset inventory (not a teacher’s personal computer). The laptops will remain as Lafayette property to play an important role in classrooms with the teachers when in-person learning resumes.
How much will this cost? Have you priced out other options?
$55,000, based on our quote from a DCPS-approved vendor. This includes the devices (Dell Latitude 3310 2-in-1, 8 GB RAM), DCPS imaging and a support plan. Although we had a team of parents searching for outside vendors for competitive device pricing, DCPS tech services will only support a limited number of laptop models. We engaged in a thorough search and have not been able to find available inventory at a lower cost. We will continue our efforts through Monday and if we can reduce the costs, we will inform the parent community.
Where will this money come from?
The Lafayette HSA has a reserve fund of $177,000. Our reserves stem from a plan by Lafayette HSA and parents during the school renovation in the 2015-16 School Year. It was envisioned as a type of rainy day fund, in case the renovation left gaps for the HSA to fill. Fortunately, we did not face the rainy day envisioned. The reserves remained and grew, in part due to donations from previous families.
What else has this funding been used for and will there be other needs this year?
In the spring, we allocated $10,000 as a COVID-19 relief fund to ensure some students had their most immediate needs met. Given this spend would not fully deplete the reserve, the HSA will continue to assess the greatest needs of the student community as they evolve.
We are also mindful that student needs may change as the school year progresses. We remain committed to addressing these needs and our current proposal maintains a healthy reserve balance. Moreover, the reserve exists outside our 2020-21 annual budget.
The teachers’ laptops have become their classrooms as distance learning continues. We want to support our teachers and our classrooms through the fall and we believe, based on both parent and teacher feedback, this purchase will greatly enrich the virtual experience for both teachers and students.
Anu Mullick and Brianne Cohen
Lafayette HSA Co-Presidents