MARENGO – Incoming freshmen at Marengo High School will have to chip-in an extra $5 next school year for a laptop as part of the school's expanding digital learning program.
District 154 board members earlier this week raised the annual technology fee from $75 to $80 for all freshmen entering the 2014-15 school year. Administrators proposed the increase after switching to Lenovo as the school's netbook manufacturer, said Superintendent Dan Bertrand.
Even with the increase, the high school's total student fees will remain one of the cheapest in McHenry County, Bertrand said. The high school-only district doesn't charge course fees or for after-school clubs and sports.
"We don't have any major fees beyond the technology fee," Bertrand said. "Our fees are much cheaper than others in the county."
Officials decided to switch to Lenovo for its classroom netbooks at a higher cost since the manufacturer makes a more durable and reliable product, he said. The district had been using Dell laptops.
The move also allows the district to continue doing in-house repairs that often saves students on maintenance costs, Bertrand said.
Under the digital program, students can either pay the annual technology fee for four years or pay a lump sum upfront. After graduation, students can keep their netbooks.
District 154 officials started the program with the 2012-13 freshmen class and has been expanding it ever since. Teachers consequently have been relying less on textbooks at the high school and incorporating more interactive content into lesson plans.
Nearly 600 Marengo High School students will be using netbooks in the classroom this fall, Bertrand said.