PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County says families are responsible for a portion of the nearly $1 million dollars in damages done to school laptops at home but they are not paying their fair share.
The district spent more than $20 million at the start of the school year to make sure every student had a laptop who needed one, whether for distance learning or in the classroom.
So now the district is one step closer to a new policy holding families responsible if a student’s school-issued laptop is damaged, lost, or stolen.
The school board approved the policy on Wednesday night, setting it up for adoption next month.
The district’s chief financial officer revealed there’s been $810,000 in damages to electronic devices since the school district started issuing them last spring.
Some of that damage was covered under warranty, so about $98,000 has been passed on to families, but only $5 grand has been recouped.
Chief Financial Officer Mike Burke also said the district has about an 8% breakage rate for the electronics, which is higher than the national average of 6%.
Board members don’t want to force families to pay if they can’t afford it, but also want to make sure kids understand there are consequences for not taking care of school property.
“I don’t want to take food out of family’s mouth to fix a computer, but there are a whole heck of a lot of families out there who can afford to fix their kids’ mistakes,” said School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri. “If they don’t hold their kids responsible, then we need to hold them responsible.”
Principals would have some discretion depending on the circumstances and how the item was damaged.
The board also discussed providing more education to students about how to take care of their computers properly.