Fairfield Schools have announced starting next school high school students will be given computer laptops for a $40 annual fee and allowed to take the learning devices home. The new digital learning program will be expanded to other grades in subsequent school years, said officials. (File Photo/Journal-News)

Fairfield becoming 2nd Butler County district to supply students with laptops

Fairfield Schools will make more than 2,500 learning laptops available to grades 9-12, and students will have option to take the devices home, said district officials.

It’s a first for the 10,000-student district, which will join Lakota Schools in providing laptops to students with the option of taking them off school grounds.

MORE: Lakota Schools first in area to offer laptops to middle and high school students

“This move to (laptops) will definitely change the way our students are learning,” said Fairfield Schools spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher. “It will supplement traditional classroom experiences by creating more flexibility for students and teachers (and) our students will now have the ability to learn wherever they are.”

Eventually, said Fairfield officials, all students in all grades will have laptops. The program will expand to grades 6-8 in 2021-22, grades 3-5 in 2022-23 and grades K-2 in 2023-24.

“Beginning with the graduating class of 2024, students will be able to keep their device upon graduation,” the district said.

Dan Jeffers, coordinator of data and instructional technology, said the devices are “expected to be more than a replacement for textbooks, but also something to transform their learning.”

High school students next school year will have to pay a $40 annual fee for using the laptops.

Officials said the cost for the program will be also be paid from the general fund budget. It will vary each year based on the number of laptops purchased and professional development.

The first-year cost for 2,530 laptops for grades 9-12 is $885,500. By the 2023-24 school year, the total cost for the year will be $1.2 million.

Fairfield’s annual operating budget is $98 million.

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From a teaching perspective, the move to laptops “is what’s best for kids,” said Ricardo Calles, a Fairfield High School Spanish teacher.

“Learning is a very personal process. Students with special needs would be able to work on individual needs, as would higher-level learners,” said Calles.

Additional collaboration on school assignments will now take place outside of the classroom, he added.

“They will have access to information that goes beyond the classroom,” he said.

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