Superintendent Dr. Jermall Wright provides an update in regards to the technology and virtual tools the city schools will be using in the upcoming school year.
Wright said the Mississippi Achievement School District will be using about a million dollars in allocated funds toward the district’s adjustments with equipment as school leaders prepare for COVID safety precautions.
“We do not actually receive any of this money in our district account,” Wright said. “We have to spend our own district money upfront and be reimbursed later if, and only if, we’ve followed and adhered to certain criteria. Some of that criteria were not provided to the district until mid to late July and early August.”
Wright said the district has ordered new Chromebooks for every student within the city schools. However, the district has not received those orders yet and probably won’t receive them for several months.
“You can imagine the backlog and backorder situation that everyone is dealing with,” Wright said. “This is beyond our control.”
While waiting for the new Chromebooks to arrive, Wright said the schools are utilizing and distributing older laptops and devices for the students to temporarily use. As of press time, existing devices were not fully available at Webster Elementary School and Woolfolk Middle School.
“We are currently working on a Plan B for (those) who do not currently have enough devices to distribute to students prior to Sept. 8,” Wright said.
Wright said school leaders are also working with community leaders to identify locations that do not have internet access available in some homes.
“In some cases, we are literally building internet access points in community buildings just so our students will have access,” Wright said. “We are hoping to release the specifics of those locations by early next week.”
Parents will also be required to pay a usage fee for district-owned equipment. If students use their own devices, the fee is not required. The usage fee is $25 and $50 for parents with two or more students.
“We believe that students and parents may take better ownership and care of the devices if they are responsible for paying a small fee,” Wright said. “The usage fee will not cover even 25 percent of the cost that will be on the district to replace lost or damaged devices.”
If parents do not pay the usage fee at the time of distributions, the student will still receive the device. But the parent will have 30 days after the device is received to pay the usage fee.
Wright also encourages parents to register their students for the upcoming year. As of press time, over 50 percent of parents district-wide had not completed the process.
“We can’t and will not get to where we need to be in five to six months,” Wright said. “We outlined every single step we need to take and every project that has been initiated to move our district to the 21st century with regards to technology. It is a multi-year process that we are expediting as quickly as humanely possible.”
All recordings and information can be found via video under the Community tab at the district website at www.masd.k12.ms.us.