The Fremont Public Schools Foundation is expecting to meet its fundraising goal of $150,000 to purchase 720 Chromebooks for Fremont High School students before the start of this school year, according to Executive Director Joe Sajevic.
The Foundation is about $4,000 away from meeting its goal.
“I’m absolutely positive that we’ll get it,” Sajevic said.
The purchase would provide Fremont Public Schools (FPS) with enough Chromebooks computers so that every student could be assigned his or her own between grades five and 12.
At Johnson Crossing Academic Center, which covers grades five and six, this “one-to-one” ratio of students to devices was already in place. Through budgeting on its own, Fremont Public Schools was likely to achieve a one-to-one ratio for grades seven through 12 in several years. But the Fremont Public Schools Foundation started this fundraising campaign in April so that it could be implemented this school year.
Chromebooks should be in the hands of Fremont High School kids by the start of the second quarter this year.
That was set to be the earliest possible time of implementation regardless of the success of the fundraising drive.
“There was no way that they were going to get here in time for the tech people to set them up and devise a check out system and do all that stuff,” Sajevic said.
There were several key donors, Sajevic said. The Fremont Area Community Foundation provided a $40,000 “last-dollar grant,” which means that, if the FPS Foundation could raise the first $110,000 on its own, the Fremont Area Community Foundation would supply the grant money to round out the funding.
The Foundation didn’t hold any major fundraising events, aside from gearing proceeds from its annual golf tournament toward the campaign. Otherwise, most of the donations came from reaching out to businesses, explaining the drive and asking for donations. Many of those donations are still coming in, Sajevic said.
“Businesses in town get hit up a lot for a lot of different, very worthy causes, but this is one that I really believed in and told them that it was something that needed to be done,” Sajevic said. “They were very very gracious with their donations.”
Substantial contributions also came from First National Bank, First State Bank and Pinnacle Bank and many other businesses. An anonymous donor provided $10,000.
At Johnson Crossing, educators have argued that the Chromebooks have become an intricate part of daily life for students, even as they sometimes bring learning curves.
Assignments are being handed in digitally via web-based apps like Google Docs. Online textbooks are becoming more popular. Previously, technology was carted around from classroom to classroom, but now, each child is responsible for his or her own device.
Principal Brent Harrill told the Tribune in March that the one-to-one assignments lead to less damage because students feel a stronger sense of ownership to the devices.
“What we’ve seen here at Johnson Crossing is an increased use of technology by our teachers,” Harrill said in March. “They’re embedding that deeper into the lessons. We’re getting deeper into coding. We’re getting deeper into STEM (Science, Technology, English and Mathematics) and robotics, and so having the device in the kids hands all the time has been really really beneficial for that.”