Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dorothy gets a laptop reports: [edited]

A new era began Tuesday when the Kansas City School District launched the largest distribution of laptops in the metro area.

The school board earlier this year agreed to purchase Apple MacBooks for all of its 5,000 high school students to use at school and at home.

The project aims to better prepare students for college. Principals have lamented for years about their students not having computers at home, fearing they will be behind their peers by the time they get to college.

“Laptop computers will help us to teach each student at their instructional level, so that they can find success,” said Susan Engelmann, a district administrator who oversees the high schools.

The school district required parents and students to attend an orientation session about the rules and expectations for using the laptops.

The school district paid about $6.4 million for the lease. Parents are responsible for the $25 insurance fee. For those unable to pay, the district allows community service as a substitute payment.

The laptops are equipped with software to prevent students from viewing pornography, but parents are also expected to help keep track of Internet usage.

District officials have taken several measures to prevent theft. All of the laptops have stickers clearly identifying them as the property of the Kansas City, Kan., public schools. The sticker will not come off without virtually destroying the laptop.

If thieves find a way around that obstacle, a GPS tracking device will help locate it. If all else fails, district officials said, they could also use a remote device to destroy the hard drive.

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