Over $40,000 in damages to Chromebooks due to factory defect, student misuse

Tess DeGayner, Website Editor in Chief

Fenton schools are temporarily without their entire fleet of Chromebooks. Devices were in place to create availability for all students but due to physical damages, 270 devices across the district, are out of commission, with 107 out of the 440 (25.45%) of them at the high school. These problems were discovered by the technology staff after the 2015-2016 school year.

Technology director Kevin Powers realized this dilemma after doing hands-on inventory. Prior to the physical inventory, the technology department thought that it had been about 12 devices out of circulation. In time, the problem gradually increased to 270 in the fleet of 1168 district wide. Main issues at hand were seal and bezel cracks and user abuse.

According to the tech crew, at the beginning of inventory, they noticed that the rubber seals that hold the screen safely had become loose. Some of them the glue on the seal had also one undone, leaving it vulnerable.

The Chromebooks are one year old, having been purchased the previous summer through a technology bond issue passed by the taxpayers. To avoid using taxpayer and/or bond money to repair the broken Chromebooks, Powers and the technology department investigated the problem and set out to find an alternative solution to cover refurbish expenses.

“These are taxpayer funded assets, and we have to take care of them.”

– Principal Mark Suchowski

“We have a local company that we work with, who would charge us just $175 a device to repair it, with it being $40,000 total,” Powers said. “But because we were able to do all this research through statistics, Lenovo is shipping those parts for free. So the real cost to our district will be the labor that my staff undertakes to install the parts put it in. But there will be no cost attached to the community in the end. The minute those 270 come in, it is all hands on deck for us to get those back into circulation.”

Powers predicts that the Chromebooks will be fixed and back into the district in November. In the meantime, Principal Mark Suchowski encourages students to take new measures to ensure more Chromebooks are not damaged.

Choosing to focus on the future, Powers had one more tip for students about how to handle Chromebooks.

“Carry it with two hands, like it is your first puppy and you don’t want to drop it,” Powers said. “Report what you see. If you’re not responsible, we’ll find that out and we’ll find the people who are.”