Henrico School Board approves new MS, ES laptop contracts

UPDATE: MAY 8, 5:50 P.M. – The Henrico County School Board today voted unanimously to award two four-year contracts to Dell, Inc., totaling $27.2 million, for the provision of computers to elementary school and middle school students and teachers.

Both contracts – a $17.6-million deal to continue the one-to-one laptop initiative for middle-school students, and a $9.6-million deal to provide one computer for every 1.5 elementary school students, through carts and classroom sets – will begin July 1. Last year, the board awarded a new four-year contract to Dell for its high school laptop program.

Dell also is the current provider of middle-school laptops in the county; its new bid came in about $1.4 million lower than the only other bid, from Hewlett Packard.

The school system will pay $4.4 million annually for 15,000 middle-school computers, which amounts to $1,175.40 per student. The contract also includes the provision of 124 elementary school servers.

The new machines feature all-metal construction and resemble those used by large Fortune 500 companies, such as Capital One and Genworth, HCPS Director of Technology Peter Taylor told the board.

“The intent is to provide a device that is extremely rugged,” Taylor said. “Our experience has been that you get what you pay for. These are the devices that we deem hold up the best in that one-to-one environment. Life in a backpack is pretty hard.”

The new middle school contract provides for the continuation of Dell’s existing “Complete Care” support model, which allows students and teachers to exchange laptops that have been damaged or need repair for new ones, Taylor said.

The new laptops will be distributed to seventh- and eighth-graders on fee night in late August, Taylor said, while rising sixth-graders would receive theirs during the first several weeks of school.

Though officials crafted their request for proposal in such a way that bidders could have proposed the use of tablets, such devices are not yet authorized by the Virginia Department of Education for use with Standards of Learning testing, Taylor said. Thus, such a bid likely would not have been recommended to the School Board, he said.

School Board members in years past have considered options that would have ended the one-to-one initiative, but they determined that the cost savings would have been minimal and would have resulted in other problems, Chairwoman Lisa Marshall said. The state requires a minimum of a five-to-one computers-to-students ratio at the middle school level, but with fewer computers, Henrico would struggle to administer SOL tests, Taylor said.

“It would be almost impossible to get every student tested in an effective manner,” he said.

Providing laptops to all students also helps even the playing field for the 30 percent or more of Henrico students who are considered disadvantaged, Marshall said, and allows them to leave middle school or high school with skills that they need in college or the professional world.

Other contracts awarded
Henrico’s new elementary school contract with Dell amounts to four annual payments of $2.4 million, or $828.58 per student. It will replace the current contract with Apple, whose bid for a new contract was about $5.6 million more than Dell’s. HP submitted a bid of $12.5 million.

Dell’s bid was significantly lower in part because it already has a repair system in place with Henrico for its high school laptop program, Taylor said, and could incorporate the elementary machines into it seamlessly.

An 11-member committee of teachers administrators and Central Office staff members evaluated the elementary school laptop bids and made a recommendation to the school system. A separate 11-member committee did the same with the two middle school bids.

The School Board also unanimously approved a six-year, $5.1-million contract with DYSIS to refresh the middle school network infrastructure, which will improve network speed, capacity and security controls, among other items. The company currently provides the high school network infrastructure for Henrico. Its bid was slightly more than that of ABS ($5 million) but was deemed to better address the school system’s goals.
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Reynolds CC dedicates student center

Reynolds Community College recently celebrated the dedication of the Jerry and Mary Owen Student Center, named for longtime supporters of the college who have made numerous investments in it.

Jerry Owen served on the Reynolds College Board from 1984 to 1988, and he and his wife support the college’s scholarship fund and created an endowment for the Reynolds Middle College, which helps students earn a high school equivalency and transition into a degree or workforce credential program. > Read more.

Capital One sponsors ‘Coders Experience’

Capital One hosted its “Coders Experience” event in Richmond and a number of other state locations Oct. 14. The events attracted hundreds of middle school girls, who learned how to create their own mobile apps, hone problem-solving skills and gain software development knowledge. A second day of Coders Experience events will take place Oct. 21. More than 500 Capital One volunteers are participating in the 10 events. > Read more.

Hermitage band member named All-American

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl Presented by American Family Insurance Selection Tour will visit Hermitage H.S. Oct. 19 to recognize Truman Chancy as a 2018 U.S. Army All-American. Hermitage High School will honor Chancy before his classmates, bandmates, family and friends at the high school’s band room during band practice, and he will be presented with his honorary All-American Marching Band jacket. > Read more.

Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week: Oct. 16, 2017

This week, Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers is asking for the public to assist the Richmond Police Department in the identification of wayward artists that were using buildings as their canvas.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 14, four people were recorded on security cameras vandalizing multiple properties in the area of the 2500 blocks of West Main Street and Floyd Avenue. The suspects (pictured) were walking north on Robinson Street and spray painting the properties as they meandered along. > Read more.

Slipping through

Hermitage quarterback Jay Carney escapes defenders during the Panthers' 33-0 win against Godwin Friday night. Hermitage is 8-0 and has won its past four games by a combined score of 172-28. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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