Hillsborough, N.C. — Orange County Schools are ditching the heavy backpacks and going digital this school year by giving every sixth- through 12th-grader a laptop to use in class.
The state was going to give the district $15 per student for textbooks this year, so administrators decided to invest in computers. A quarter-cent sales tax helped pay the $2.6 million bill for more than 4,000 Lenovo laptops.
“(The) fully interactive digital textbook, which when we cost it out over five years, is significantly less than buying textbooks,” said Superintendent Patrick Rhodes.
Students will receive their laptops within a couple of weeks and will use them in class.
“This is their world. In a lot of ways, they're more ready than we are,” said Jeffrey Faulkner, an eighth-grade science teacher at C.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough.
English teacher Michele Johnson says her sixth-grade students had a chance to use laptops in her class earlier this year.
“Students who were somewhat apathetic were instantly engaged. This is their life outside of school for a lot of kids,” she said.
Orange County school officials say only three other school systems in the state have similar laptop programs. They're also working on plans to provide students with low-cost Internet connections.