Parents and teachers upset Henrico schools approve nearly $18M f - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Parents and teachers upset Henrico schools approve nearly $18M for new laptops

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

Some Henrico teachers and parents are upset - disappointed that the school board is spending nearly 18-million dollars on new student laptops.

At a public hearing, Thursday, they told the board the money should go to teachers and school improvements. But, the school board officially approved the contract - something it actually already did last month, sparking controversy because a public hearing wasn't held.

So, before the public comments took center stage - the school board acknowledge its mistake:

"First I'd like to apologize…truly we did what we thought was right at the time so our students so our students would have their laptops in hand at the start of school...however, it was not in the best practice and we wish it had been handled differently," said Henrico School Board Chair, Beverly Cocke.

Cocke went on to say its members acted on the sudden advice by a county attorney - voting to approve the 19,000 brand new Dell laptops students and teachers will get starting next school year.

County school officials say the laptops are necessary. They say current laptops are too slow, the batteries die too quickly, and hard drive failures are too costly to fix.

But members of the public felt differently, teachers especially felt, that given its teacher appreciation week, they don't feel like they're being appreciated.

"Students are our number one priority, and one of our jobs is to prepare them for the 21st century, however, this becomes harder when funding for teacher training is removed," said Jeannine Chewning, a teacher at Hermitage High School.

The school board agrees teachers deserve a lot of credit - but say this laptop money is a separate deal. One speaker, a student, showed support.

"I don't want to go to the library and haul back a giant encyclopedia when I can just log on and look at website and look at whatever it is online…we're not going back we're going forward with technology," said Zachary Dalton, a sophomore at Godwin High School.

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