District votes to offer laptops to all high school students

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU)- An area high school will be trading in more textbooks for technology starting next school year.

In a 6-1 vote Monday night the Chippewa Falls School Board opted to give Chromebook laptops to every student starting next year.
The vote comes after the district launched a pilot program giving Chromebooks to every freshman at Chippewa Falls Senior High School this fall.

“Without the Chromebooks there is no way that we can prepare our students to be 21st century learners,” Amy Ambelang said.

Ambelang, who is a library media specialist at Chippewa Falls Senior High School says the lightweight piece of technology has changed the way she teaches and students interact.

“It is helping my teaching go to the next level. It’s much easier to differentiate your teaching. For example, if a student is struggling you can help them while being discrete,” Ambelang explained.

School Board president Jim Dimock says the choice to expand the program was simple because the initial pilot program came back with such positive feedback.

“It’s been well accepted by the students the parents are excited about it,” Dimock said.

Dimock says the school district will foot the more than $250,000 bill to purchase the 1,100 laptops by having fewer computer labs around the high school and eventually turning to online textbooks.

“In some cases the high school textbooks are extremely expensive. It’s kind of a one for one match in some cases comparing prices,” Dimock explained.

When it comes to putting more computers in the hands of students, district technology director Scott Kowalski says the money invested in the laptops will pay off by preparing students for more real world experiences.

“When you work in a digital world you have to have the proper etiquette and focus on the digital resources that you need to be successful in the real world and we will teach that to our students using the Chromebooks,” Kowalski said.

The school district says in addition to its normal use in daily classroom activities students will also use the Chromebooks for state testing which will be done online starting next year.

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