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District gives Apple laptops to CHCCS middle school teachers

The laptops were given as part of the Laptop Refresh program.

The schools are participating in the Laptop Refresh Program, organized by the Information Technology Department of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Starting today, Smith Middle School, Phillips Middle School, Culbreth Middle School and McDougle Middle School will each hold a laptop refresh event, through which staff members will receive, register and learn about their new MacBook Air laptops.

Though CHCCS has offered Laptop Refresh since 2006, the district is now making a transition to using Apple computers.

Ray Reitz, chief technology officer for CHCCS, said the program started to ensure teachers had computers so they could teach, research and work on course development.

“It’s becoming much more common in schools to ensure that the teachers and students have contemporary and up-to-date tools to use in school,” Reitz said.

Reitz said MacBook Air laptops have several integrated multimedia functions for video, audio and editing.

“These features are important to many teachers who compile their students’ work so they can showcase them online and offline,” Reitz said. “It’s really the (Adobe) Creative Suite that the teachers value with the Mac platform.”

He said the laptops are covered by a three-year warranty through the program, which is funded as a capital project in the district’s budget, meaning money is allocated toward student and teacher laptops each year.

Reitz said he estimated about 320 laptops would be divided out to the four middle schools participating in the program.

“This year is the year for the middle school teachers to receive new laptops,” he said. “Next year the district will be refreshing all elementary school laptops. The following year it will refresh the high school, and then they will be back to the middle school.”

Jason Bales, instructional technology facilitator for Culbreth Middle School, said the main job of each facilitator is getting teachers ready to hand in their old laptops to exchange for new ones.

“What they have to do is make sure that anything they want to keep and take to the new laptop is saved,” Bales said.

Michael Byers, instructional technology facilitator at Phillips Middle School, said teachers preferred the Apple platform to that of the PCs previously offered by the program.

“Teachers were told and allowed to state a preference for a type of laptop, and it was about 95 percent that voted for a Mac laptop, so they are definitely with the program,” he said. “It’s been very well planned and directed from the district, and they’ve tried to make everything stepwise.”

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