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Community Support for 1-to1 Technology Purchase  is Game Changer for Student Learning

Youngster looking back, laptop with learning program in front of him. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the nation and world with a challenge not previously encountered in modern workplaces and public education.

In North Beach School District, the pandemic and subsequent shift to distance learning for 770 prek-12th grade scholars created an unanticipated demand for at least 375 new 1:1 devices to support distance learning. After researching devices, staff determined that, for a cost of $315, the district could provide a student with a Chromebook and license needed to participate fully in distance learning. 

At a time when the state is anticipating a funding shortage of $8-9 billion short of pre-COVID projections, Superintendent Andrew Kelly quickly recognized that there is little chance the district will receive additional state funding to cover the unexpected expenditure. In early June, only months after passing a levy, he went back to the local community, beginning with local foundations.

The outpouring of generosity from the North Beach/Grays Harbor community profoundly confirmed its support for its youth and families. By Friday, September 18, the district had received over $120,000 in grants, foundation gifts and private donations from individuals within our community. Among the largest contributions:

  • Associated Arts of Ocean Shores - $1,000
  • Grays Harbor Community Foundation Grant - $20,000
  • Lions Club of Ocean Shores - $5,200
  • North Beach Youth Foundation (formerly Kiwanis) - $15,120
  • Seabrook Community Foundation - $70,000
  • In addition, the district received 20 private party donations ranging from $50 to over $1,000 each.

Young girl in front of computer Superintendent Kelly said he is thankful for every donation, including the foundation grants, which helped to fill the gap quickly. But he was particularly touched by an elderly couple who came to the district office and wrote a check for $50.

“When I thanked them,” Kelly shares, “They both smiled from ear to ear and the husband said, ‘We don’t own a computer and wouldn’t know how to use one, but the kids in our community are all OUR responsibility and we wanted to do our part to help.’”

The North Beach Youth Foundation’s donation of $15,120 will put Chromebooks in the hands of 48 North Beach scholars. Spokesperson Miles Logenbaugh reflects, "During these tough times it is important to let the youth of the North Beach School District know that we stand by them and support them. We wish the kids the best as they use these Chromebooks to learn from home."

Seabrook Community Foundation Executive Director Christi Boora was excited to share the foundation decision to provide $70,000 to support North Beach students. Boora emphasizes, “The students in our community are our future; they are the most precious commodity we have. This donation is a perfect fit for the mission of the Seabrook Community Foundation and we are thrilled to play a role to ensure the success of the students within North Beach.”

The school year started in North Beach on September 1. Though the district is still operating in a “distance learning” modality, it’s also gradually starting to bring small groups of kids together for in-person learning, carefully aligning with county and state guidance. Agreements forged this summer between the district and its employees’ bargaining units will allow the district to flex its support model for parents and students according to personal comfort levels with “in-person” instruction.

Frustrating for all involved, the devices, ordered in early June, have not yet been received. The pandemic has disrupted the production of devices worldwide at a time of unprecedented demand.

Schools and teachers continue to provide instruction similar to last year, making the best use of technology currently available in the district. Combining privately owned devices and those that the district already owned, teachers have been able provide “live” instruction for nearly all students. (Long-term, this arrangement is not optimal; devices of different ages and versions of software make it difficult to have students successfully working on district learning platforms.)

The district has also provided some families with hotspots and worked with Coast Communication to create a "school essential" internet package for families in order to address bandwidth issues.

Despite the delay in delivery, Superintendent Kelly believes this investment in technology will change the trajectory of education within North Beach forever. “Moving to a 1:1 technology format in North Beach supports our students while they learn from home during the pandemic. The even bigger story is the impact it will have instruction as we return to face-to-face learning. The availability of the devices and our newly-learned skills in remote instruction will augment and provide opportunities to learn differently when students return to face-to-face learning.”

“One of my greatest joys serving as superintendent in North Beach is knowing that we educators aren’t in this alone,” Kelly concludes. “The parents and the community believe in our kids and are tremendous partners in supporting our school district and continuing to empower us to improve as a system.”