WATERLOO — Waterloo Community Schools will seek federal stimulus dollars to help fund internet access and computers for students whose families can’t afford them.
The district is applying for money through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
On Tuesday, the Board of Education approved the purchase of 593 Dell touchscreen Chromebook laptops at a cost of $148,843 during a special meeting. The ECF includes a provision that allows districts to seek funding for laptop computers when they will be used by students who lack devices sufficient to engage in remote learning.
Authorities continue to look for a Waterloo man who was last seen weeks ago.
As a result, Waterloo Schools will “target our virtual students, who obviously need a suitable device,” said Matt O’Brien, the district’s director of technology. The touchscreen functionality has been identified as being important for the district’s virtual learners, especially those in elementary school. Reimbursement will be sought from the fund for the entire cost.
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“Our hope is that we’re able to leverage these funds to get Chromebooks in before school starts,” added O’Brien, noting the order is expected to be filled ahead of the first day of fall classes.
The purchase allows for reshuffling existing Chromebooks and ultimately avoiding the replacement of devices at one of three elementary schools scheduled to get new ones after the coming year.