Schools in the central and southern areas of San Diego Unified — which tend to be less affluent — are more likely to have gotten student laptops later than other schools, district data show.

All schools in San Diego Unified will eventually get laptops this school year as part of a sweeping plan to install digital whiteboards and other technology in classrooms, said Darryl LaGace, who oversees technology in the schools. It’s paid for by a school renovation bond that voters passed two years ago.

But some schools got the laptops sooner than others. As of the beginning of April, 38 out of the nearly 200 schools in the district were still waiting for laptops. They were disproportionately likely to fall in the southern and central areas of the school district represented by Richard Barrera and Shelia Jackson — something Jackson wasn’t happy about when the school board saw the data. Check out this map to see it for yourself.

For instance, laptops hadn’t gotten to five of the 37 traditional schools in the northeast areas represented by Katherine Nakamura — about 14 percent — compared to 10 out of 36 schools in Jackson’s area — about 27 percent. (I’m leaving out atypical schools and charters and basing my counts on the schools listed for each school board member on the district website.) So why the imbalance?

There are two reasons schools might not get the laptops as quickly, LaGace said. Principals had to return a survey saying whether they thought their teachers were ready to get the laptops. Putting a computer in the hands of every kid is a big step, so they wanted schools to say when they were ready. That’s not a bad idea: You might remember that when schools just installed whiteboards, not every teacher was thrilled to get them.

The other issue was technical. LaGace said the school district had to install equipment at the schools beforehand, but it ordered it school by school so it could track spending at each site, and the suppliers didn’t deliver it all at the same time. Parents who looked at the laptop map at a committee meeting for parents at economically disadvantaged schools weren’t pleased.

“Is this going to close the achievement gap?” asked David Page, who leads the group. “Or is it just going to send the children at the top even higher?”


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