BOSC gets Chromebook update from MSD IT director

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Stephen Cross on Oct. 12, 2021. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Manchester School District (MSD) IT Director Stephen Cross let the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) know that systems are being developed to prevent the loss of Chromebooks and other devices issued to families in the future.

Cross told the BOSC that of the 7,000 devices issued while Manchester’s public schools were in remote-learning status, 987 of those devices specifically have not yet been returned, noting that improper documentation was an issue.

Money within ESSER 2 funding coming to the MSD will allow the purchase of asset management systems as well as stipends for individuals within each of the MSD’s 21 schools who currently keep track of devices that have been loaned out to families.

This school year, no devices have been loaned out to families for out-of-school use outside of Manchester Memorial High School following the emergence of a COVID-19 cluster within the school.

He also stated that tickets for broken devices have increased significantly, with 30 to 60 on hand prior to the pandemic with 600 as of today.

BOSC Member Dr. Nicole Leapley (Ward 11) asked why a system comparable to that used with library books or even QR codes couldn’t be used, with Cross responded by stating the devices being purchased were made specifically to be used with the district’s Aspen/Follett-based student information systems.

Cross also told Leapley that efforts are being undertaken to track down devices taken by families that have moved out of the district, which accounts for $100,000 worth of the devices not yet returned. He added that some families have communicated with the district once their devices have been shut off remotely in cases where the device’s serial number had been documented prior to it being taken by families.

BOSC Member Karen Soule (Ward 3) said that professional development efforts should be put into place to assist staff members that will be charged with spearheading device retention duties at each school and added that forms should be provided in the native language of parents.

BOSC Member Dan Bergeron (Ward 6) asked if students could be utilized to help keep track of devices at each school, but Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said that idea would have to be vetted by the BOSC Teaching and Learning Committee.

BOSC Member Kathleen Kelly-Arnold (Ward 2) advised that high schools should have several staff members responsible for device retention, with Cross responding that Manchester Central and Memorial High Schools currently each have two.

Cross also provided positive news regarding the district’s device supply, beginning with the 7,400 purchased just before the pandemic began.

He also told the board about emergency connectivity funding from the FCC that is providing T-Mobile-based internet hotspots to families in need and homeless families in the district as well as software installed on the devices that allow the district to project end-of-life timelines for each device and forecast replacement needs.

More information from the presentation can be found below.