Free Chromebooks come at a price when damaged

Vivian Trinh, Staff writer

There are at least 1,950 Chromebooks in circulation at Branham, with the newest HP models dedicated to the more than 500 fresh- men. But for the rest of the students, repairs are often needed as they age.

Son Trinh, who manages the Chromebook fleet for Branham, said that he sees at least two to three students a week who need to repair their laptops. Problems can range from missing keys to broken screens.

Students at the beginning of the year signed contracts agreeing to pay for damages incurred while using the district-issued Chromebooks. They will pay $288 for a lost, stolen or irreparable Chromebook. Other costs include broken screens ($60), laptop chargers ($20), computer bags ($20), wifi hotspots ($50). There are no labor costs.

“We’re basically charging for how much we get from HP,” he said.

For Trinh, who used to work from the district offices, being able to set up shop to help students and staff troubleshoot problem areas at school is helpful. His offices are located at the old student store facing the quad.

Trinh said he tries to fix laptops free of charge, especially those from older Chromebooks. How- ever, he said most damages that students incur can easily be prevented if students do one simple thing: put Chromebooks back in their bags.

“Students just drop them accidentally, and without the bag that’s how they break,” he said.

The one-to-one Chromebook program, which began four years ago, accelerated during last year’s shutdown, as Chromebooks were needed for everything from AP tests, state standardized tests to submitting homework.

Freshman Anvit Mishra, who also owns a personal computer, said that using a school-issued Chromebook is more efficient at school since it connects automatically to the school’s wifi.

“I like the idea of having a Chromebook till I graduate,” Mishra said.

With an increasing reliance on usable Chromebooks, having a smooth software experience is just as important. As Chromebooks are usually underpowered, math and computer science teacher Steven Turner says students should have no more than three or four tabs open at a time, and to turn off the computer at least once a week.

“They get overheated pretty fast,” he said.

Even with older and sometimes slower models, staff members say the benefits of having a Chromebook for every student outweighs the risks that a few might get damaged. With interactive practices such as using PearDeck carrying over from last year’s online classes, a working Chromebook for every student is an equitable practice.

“It’s good for students (who) don’t have that technology immediately,” Turner said.