Officials don’t know how many computers might have broken keyboards or cracked screens. If the returned computers are repairable, the district will fix them and put them back into circulation.
They’re also hoping to get back 479 bricked devices, or devices that the technology team has disabled and rendered useless because they have been compromised or were not returned.
“We think it’s really important to protect the taxpayers’ investment and get the device back,” said Superintendent Mike Looney at Thursday’s school board meeting.
“We believe that especially for the students in the upper grades that having a device is central to their successful learning,” Looney said. “We want to eliminate any barriers that they might perceive in order to get the device back.”
Purchasing, maintaining and distributing laptops is a colossal undertaking for districts. The work became more crucial when COVID-19 shuttered school buildings in spring 2020. For more than a year, many students relied on school-issued devices to keep up with virtual classes.
Pre-pandemic, Fulton gave middle and high school students their own devices. During the pandemic, the district began providing equipment to younger students.
This summer, the district plans to clean and add security updates to more than 64,000 laptops and tablets at an estimated cost of $2.5 million. Schools will start collecting the equipment from students May 16 so that they can be redistributed when classes resume in the fall.
Students attending summer school will turn in their devices after completing their classes.
This summer marks the first time the district has attempted to collect and clean devices on such a large scale.
At the end of last year, Fulton collected only about 6,000 devices, mostly from graduating seniors and students transferring out of the district.
“This is going to be yeoman’s work and a very tall task,” Bell said.