‘Grove Moving to Chromebook Computers Next Year

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Between 2018 and 2021, Macbook and iPad computer maker Apple Inc. praised Pottsgrove High and Pottsgrove Middle schools as “distinguished” for using its products to foster “continuous innovation in learning, teaching, and the school environment.” Now that title, and the luster that once accompanied it, are fading into history.

The Pottsgrove Board of School Directors unanimously voted Tuesday (Jan. 24, 2023) to discontinue students’ use of Apple devices at the middle school during the 2023-’24 academic year. They will be replaced by Google Chromebooks.

Reduced costs, and student and teacher satisfaction, are primary reasons.

Apple equipment (above) also is scheduled to be phased out for high school students in 2024-’25. A similar switch for elementary school students is still being evaluated, and a decision regarding them will depend on further research, district Director of Technology Jeffrey Buettler told school board members.

The change does not affect instructor devices, he added.

Pottsgrove recently completed a study, begun last fall, involving student use of Chromebooks across all grade levels in the district, Buettler explained. The results indicate those devices perform as well as or better than their Apple counterparts at most educational tasks. “We got a lot of great feedback in terms of their effectiveness, (and) in terms of using them in class,” he said.

At the elementaries and elsewhere, Buettler reported, survey responses also offered favorable results on variables like size-and-shape form factors and “touch-screen usage versus keyboard usage.”

Then there’s the financial bonus. Switching students into Chromebooks is estimated to save Pottsgrove “as much as $300,000 per year, depending upon the implementation plan,” according to the district. The change also makes sense for Pottsgrove, Buettler said, because it has already adopted other compatible Google technologies district-wide.

Tuesday’s decision focused on the middle school because district leases for Apple devices there expire at the end of the academic year. The deadline is a natural point to make the transition. If directors had not chosen Chromebooks, their alternative would have been to renew the Apple leases at significantly higher prices, administrators said.

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” board member Dr. Charles Nippert told Buettler.

Apple logos may not disappear from Pottsgrove entirely. Some “industrial” tasks – engineering, drafting, visual communication, and video editing were among those cited – can’t be done as easily on Chromebooks, teachers acknowledge. For them, the district plan is to establish “specialized labs” with limited numbers of “better” devices students can use as needed, Buettler said.

Chromebook photo by Anete Lusina on Unsplash, used under license
Apple device photo by Michail Sapiton on Unsplash, used under license
Apple Distinguished School logo from a Pottsgrove website screenshot

Other coverage of the Pottsgrove school board Jan. 24 meeting:

Pottsgrove Moving to Chromebook Computers Next Year
The Pottsgrove school board decided Tuesday to switch students from Apple computing devices to Google Chromebooks starting at its middle school in 2023-’24; the high school in 2024-’25, and later, possibly, in the elementary schools.

Pottsgrove Board Approves $321,000+ for Equipment
Two Pottsgrove school building equipment replacements – a generator for the high school and district office, and a sound system at Lower Pottsgrove Elementary – have been authorized at a combined value of more than $321,000.

District Authorizes ‘Falcon Trail’ at Middle School
Pottsgrove Middle School will be the future setting for the “Falcon Trail,” a 1,200-foot walkway that is expected to provide easy and direct access to students and Coddington View residents to nearby Hollenbach Park.

Incoming Teachers Pair With Mentors for 2023
Pottsgrove school board members this month, as they have during many previous years, approved the pairing of newly arrived educators with district veterans. The goal is to help newcomers feel comfortable and grow in their jobs.

Pottsgrove Directors Appoint Business Administrator
Newly appointed Pottsgrove School District Business Administrator Deborah Klahold was welcomed with applause Tuesday, as the school board introduced her as its chief financial executive.

PCTV Live-Streamed Pottsgrove’s Jan. 24 Meeting
The Tuesday (Jan. 24, 2023) meeting of the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ meeting was live-streamed by Pottstown Community Television, and then archived on YouTube.