Guilford to restart, extend tablet program
Guilford County Schools has come to a tentative agreement to continue working with Amplify to provide new tablets for the PACE program to restart next school year.
Amplify will provide tablets from a different manufacturer than the Asus tablets that caused safety concerns for middle school students last fall. A new manufacturer has not yet been picked.
Under the new agreement, the school system and Amplify will extend their partnership, which originally was set to expire in the 2016-17 school year, to the 2017-18 school year to make up for suspension of the program this school year. Amplify will use the funds it received from the school system for 2013-14 to extend the agreement into 2017-18.
Guilford County Schools Superintendent Mo Green said the PACE team decided to stick with Amplify rather than switching to another provider because their mission and goals for personalized learning aligned the best.
“The team felt that our visions matched, and that this is a partnership that we can continue,” Green said. “We raised our concerns about the quality and safety of the other tablets, and Amplify was responsive to those concerns. We feel this was the right way to go. We felt very good about how Amplify responded.”
GCS paid Amplify around $3.2 million at the start of the personal learning program this school year for 18 of the 24 middle schools and adding the remaining schools in 2014-15. When the program restarts, all 24 middle schools will have tablets for their students.
Because some money the school system put toward training Personal Learning Environment Facilitators, teachers and others cannot be returned, Amplify has agreed to pay the school system $856,750 and will provide a technology consultant to each school for the first 90 days of the restarted program.
Schools will start and restart the program on a staggered time line that has not been determined. Green said he is unsure if the school system will host tablet boot camps for teachers and students next year.
The new agreement states that Amplify will provide schools with customized tablets that have a more durable screen, a faster CPU, a power adapter that meets UL standards for inclusion with toys, recessed glass surface with full plastic or rubber bumpers on corners, and other specifications.
Tablets should be given to the school system by Aug. 1 or Amplify will pay Guilford County Schools 75 cents per day for each tablet. Tablets will be given to nearly 20,000 users, including teachers, students and principals.
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