Students to get laptop computers

WEST CHESTER The West Chester Area School District will purchase 5,000 computers over the next four years with the goal of giving a laptop to each student in eighth through 12th grades, officials said.

The new computers - which students will be able to use at school and home - will cost about $3.8 million. But officials said the net cost will be closer to $1.2 million due to cost-sharing for extended warranties and damage insurance, and also the phasing out of shared computers currently used by the district.

The district will begin the transition by purchasing 2,000 computers for eighth and ninth graders to use starting next year, according to June Garwin, the district's director of technology.

The district began a pilot of the program in the 2009-10 school year. Officials said parents reported that students who were given a computer showed increased self-sufficiency. Officials said about 70 percent of teachers said they were better able to individualize curriculum because of the technology.

- Tricia L. Nadolny