The Rogersville Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday evening to cancel a computer order just shy of $300,000 that would have provided every student in sixth, seventh and eighth grades with a "Tablet PC" laptop computer to take home for free. That's about 220 computers, not including the teacher's editions.
The school board's problem with Gateway stems from a disagreement over the terms of the warranty. Last year when the board advertised for computer price quotes for this program, it specified that it wanted a "next business day" warranty for computer repairs.
Teachers received their computers in August, and a short time later it was determined that two of them would require service.
The school board's definition of "next business day" service was to have computer repairs commence by the next day.
School Director Ravan Krickbaum said Gateway's definition of next day service was to provide a replacement while the computer requiring service was sent away for repairs.
She said there is one teacher's edition that was sent away in September and still hasn't been returned.
"That's not what we were looking for when we asked for proposals, and we thought that we'd made that clear from the outset," Krickbaum told the Times-News Wednesday. "Every different student and every different teacher will have unique materials stored on their computers - textbooks, classroom projects, homework, notes, whatever - so if their computer goes down you can't just send it away for months. They need to be able to get those materials as soon as possible.
"We tried to reach an agreement with Gateway on the warranty issue, and there has been no resolution, so the board voted unanimously to return the computers and try a different vendor."
The system's One on One Technology Initiative is intended to make the Tablet PC an integral part of the daily instruction program for the 6-8 level students. The goal is to integrate technology into instruction.
The computers were supposed to be distributed to students in November. But when school officials realized there was a disagreement on the terms of the warranty, they postponed distribution until the warranty issue was resolved.
Now that Gateway is out of the picture, the school board has authorized Krickbaum to solicit new price quotes on the computers. With so much time already having been lost, the project is now on the "fast track."
The BOE scheduled a special called meeting for Friday at 12:15 p.m. to discuss the new quotes.
"It's going to take a few weeks to go through the bidding process again," Krickbaum said. "And once we have a new vendor and the computers arrive, it's going to take time to integrate them into our curriculum. But we still believe this is something that can be accomplished this school year.
"The board's idea behind this is that if our students are going to continue to excel they need to be hands-on with technology."