We don't really know how much reducing the laptop program would save Baltimore County schools
Feb 12, 2019 | 2:25 PM
The Baltimore County School Board needs to do a closer examination on how much it could save by reducing or eliminating STAT, the controversial laptop program.
I agree with The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board’s analysis that Baltimore County Public School stakeholders are looking to put the difficult budget decisions on the county executive; however, the description of savings from STAT elimination — which few are calling for — as producing “little savings” reflects an incomplete examination of last Tuesday’s board meeting (“Raise a ruckus for Baltimore County schools,” Feb. 11).
The more accurate description would be we don’t know what the savings would be. When board member Russell Kuehn, asked specifically about the fiscal implications of scaling back the county’s STAT laptop program beyond K-2, the administration’s response could be more accurately summarized as, “It’s complicated. We didn’t have the time. We don’t think it would matter.” This is quite different from saying no savings would occur.
Furthermore, everyday teachers are delivering instruction to students with broken or forgotten laptops and figuring out how to overcome network issues. We are making curricula work with or without the devices. Will teachers complain about curricular issues should device access be reduced? We always do. No change there.
As for the textbook replacement, there is likely to be some duplication of costs. But, as the administration conceded last Tuesday, digital and print textbooks are comparable in price. The print ones just don’t require $1,000 readers.
The toughest part of this whole process is getting $200 million-worth of egg off our faces. The public, the board and the county executive deserve, at least, an honest examination and answer about what the fiscal realities of a reduced STAT Initiative would be.