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Hoisington students check out Chromebooks
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Bradley Hopkins, a fifth grader in Karissa Cowans class at Hoisington Middle School, went right to work on his newly issued Chromebook Tuesday morning. Students pulled up spelling words on Google Classroom, and practiced writing in cursive on white boards. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

In December, Hoisington USD 431 gave the nod to purchasing Chromebooks for each middle and high school student in the district.  Director of Technology Kerry Mooney said he could have the laptops ready to use by the end of winter break, and he was true to his word.  Students returning Tuesday started off the new year by receiving their assigned Chromebooks and reviewing proper laptop etiquette.  
At Karissa Cowan’s fifth grade classroom, students were quizzed on the basics.  
“We don’t put things inside when we close them,” Cowan demonstrated.  Students were also instructed not to stack things on top of the units, and to carry them by the built-in handle. Each 10-inch laptop includes an adjustable built-in camera, which she demonstrated could be moved to ensure the students could see themselves regardless of height.  After receiving their unit, they were instructed to record their number in their agenda so they would not forget, because each student will use the same laptop each day for the remainder of the year.  At the middle school, students will check out their computer in the morning, and turn it back in at the end of the day, where they will charge overnight.  High school students will be allowed to take their computers home.  
Hoisington Middle School Principal Pat Reinhardt said students were assigned iPad tablets previously, but new educational standards are requiring students to write more, so laptops with keyboards are far more useful.
“I’m so happy, I can’t hardly stand it,” said Hailee Bonham, one of Cowan’s students.  “It’s like a Christmas present.”
And taxpayers should be happy to hear the price-tag for the new technology came in less than expected, costing the district only $170 per unit.  According to Mooney, that’s because Google overproduced the 4G model, and was looking to reduce inventory.  The memory is more than adequate because
  Another advantage, Reinhardt said, includes the feature that allows only Google software to be installed, which automatically keeps virus and malware at bay.  Other controls will allow the district to keep students from logging onto unapproved web sites so they can remain focused on the task at hand.
Chromebooks utilize the Google suite of programs which have been made available to the district through an educational grant. Plus, instead of having to upgrade the district’s server to accommodate the data that will be created as students produce more work digitally, Google provides unlimited free storage in the cloud, which essentially means data is stored through the internet and is accessed through the internet.    
With the new units already being utilized, it wont be long before the district moves some of the newly prepped ipads to the elementary schools and has offered to allow faculty and staff to purchase the remaining used tablets first for $100 each. This is about the same the district could receive for the tablets from Mac to School, a retailer that buys back and resells Apple technology to schools. The City of Hoisington has also asked to purchase a dozen for the city council in its effort to reduce the number of agenda packets it prints and mails. Proceeds from the sales will go back into the district’s technology budget.